The last news on the bloody shooting dead of Reeva Steenkamp in Joburg is that to the relief of most casual observers, her killer Oscar Pistorius was not released from jail a couple of weeks ago as scheduled. No, he has been kept banged up for now – all-be-it most of the time in a cushy jail facility rather than behind real iron bars.
This surprise last minute move two days before the expected release has though apparently all caused a bit of a furore in South African legal circles, amidst claims of blatant political interference in the legal process. You see, the Justice Minister, under pressure from women’s groups (who are campaigning about extreme violence against women), has intervened saying that the Parole Board considered Pistorius’ release ‘too early’. He now claims that Pistorius should have completed the 10 months of his actual 5 year sentence BEFORE even being CONSIDERED for early freedom (by way of some form of house arrest)– yet the board had granted it 3 months earlier, to be enacted exactly at 10 months. It seems to be a legitimate, if welcome (?), grey loophole to keep Pistorius inside, but the problem there is that the process is generally how it has been commonly operated for others. Who cares, Oscar remains in prison, as many on South Africa and elsewhere would be happy about?
Rich ex-Paralympics champion Pistorius ‘big boy lawyers have about another week to file a heads of arguments response to the prosecution’s appeal to have him convicted of fulltime murder – the original trial judge has conceded that the appeal has legs, so who knows the outcome?. This appeal is currently expected to be held at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein sometime this November – if convicted Pistorius will then face a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison without parole.
Two incredible things happened in Pistorius’ original trial last year:
- The judge in her judgment decided (to the amazement of many observers and even SA legal experts) that it would be legally unfair and inappropriate to assume that this experienced gun user (and to boot a serial firearms abuser), had NOT envisaged that shooting someone four times with a ‘zombie blaster loaded weapon’ (his description) would really cause actual death -so therefore Pistorius could not really be convicted of murder.
- Though he was convicted by the same judge of ‘cultivable homicide’ he was cynically then given specifically 5 years jail (to impress all and sundry?), knowing that in reality in current South African law this meant ONLY serving 10 months – a day more and he would have had to serve it all. The outcry was enormous of course and the world observers were astounded and aghast.
Surely, all South African justice, their present and some pontificating past judges or university law professors and the likes, are generally now suspect, if not laughed at? It has also been repeatedly suggested that being rich and famous (and white – despite a black judge being involved here) still seems to get you a long way and allow some to escape justice – and then don’t you think we might have seen unwarranted sympathy on being disabled defeat natural justice?
[The crux of the matter wail be determined by the legal process when it reaches Bloemfontein – then the world will see if Reeva’s slaughter is finally acknowledged, won’t it?]