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HomeEditorialOscar Pistorius: From blade-runner to bleed-runner

Oscar Pistorius: From blade-runner to bleed-runner

Morning newspapers, had a photo of a sobbing, drooling athlete with his head bowed and eyes closed – and the headlines were many. I hope, they have spoken to an unnamed lawyer who said: “Oscar Pistorius can count himself overturning lucky.” Some headlines said Oscar Pistorius is a liar – but not a cold-blooded murderer. Some front-pages photo shows Barry Steenkamp, Reeva’s father, staring at Pistorius in court. Some uses the same snotty photo as Pretoria News, with the headline “Tears of relief.” Their montage also pictures Barry Roux, the defense lawyer, looking pleased with himself in the courtroom and a furious-looking Gerrie Nel, lead prosecutor. It was quite confusing to understand what media is trying to portray or say.

A champion athlete who beat the odds to inspire millions worldwide was born in 1986 in Johannesburg without fibulas. His parents decided when he was 11 months old to have his legs amputated below the knee so he could be fitted with prosthetic legs. He is a South African sprint runner. After becoming a Paralympics champion, Pistorius attempted to enter able-bodied international competition, over persistent objections of the IAAF and charges that his artificial limbs gave an unfair advantage. Pistorius eventually won in this legal dispute. At the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, Pistorius became the first amputee to win an able-bodied world track medal. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Pistorius became the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics when he entered the men’s 400 metres and 4 × 400 metres relay races. At the 2012 Summer Paralympics, Pistorius won gold medals in the men’s 400-metre race and in the 4 × 100 metres relay, setting world records in both events. On 14 February 2013, Pistorius was charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, whom he had allegedly shot at his home in the early hours of that morning. On 11 September, some of the verdict was delivered and Pistorius was found not guilty of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, but he was found guilty of culpable homicide and discharging a firearm in public.

Anyway, if he had done the same thing in India, Pistorius would be a free man. Because, it would take minimum 25 years for the courts to hear his case as we are seeing in actor Salman Khan’s hit-and-run case where he ran over his car on 4 people injuring 3 and leaving 1 dead. He might have a chance to bribe the courts and misplace his file to delay another 25 years, so he would be 80 years of age, when appeared in court. Judgement here is much more lethargic than in other countries. In spite of having fast track courts, so far no one could be prosecuted or punished on time.
Justice Masipa rules that the state has not provided enough evidence for her to find Pistorius guilty of count two, which is that he fired his 9mm pistol from the sunroof of a moving car in 2012. She moves on to count three, that Pistorius accidentally fired a pistol at a Cape Town restaurant in 2013. Pistorius allegedly asked Fresco to take the blame to avoid bad publicity. Pistorius’ lawyer already admitted guilt for the firing of the weapon, but not for asking Fresco to take the blame. “Crying Shame” is the headline of The Citizen – a paper which yesterday had as its front-page headline: “Jail him!” They list the judge’s criticism of him: he was a poor witness, he was negligent in discharging his firearm, he acted too hastily and used excessive force, and he knew right from wrong when he fired. Oscar Pistorius was a “poor and contradictory” witness, but the state’s case against him was based solely on circumstantial evidence and many of its witnesses were simply “wrong” in what they thought they heard the night Reeva Steenkamp died. Judge Thokozile Masipa, who tried the case without a jury, said prosecutors had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Pistorius intended to kill his girlfriend at his Pretoria home on Valentine’s Day last year. Accompanied by frequent gasps in the packed courtroom, the judge took apart the state’s case that the Paralympic athlete shot Steenkamp after the couple had a passionate row.

The judge said argumentative phone messages between the pair “proved nothing”; she dismissed as “inconclusive” evidence that Steenkamp had eaten when Pistorius claimed they were asleep in bed; and she described witnesses’ claims of hearing “blood curdling” screams before the shots were fired as “unreliable”. A day after acquitting Pistorius of a more serious charge of murder, South African Judge Thokozile Masipa said that Pistorius had acted “negligently” when firing four hollow point rounds into a locked toilet door in the early hours of Valentine’s Day, 2013. On the charge of murder, Masipa said: “the accused is found not guilty and is discharged, instead he is found guilty of culpable homicide.”

“A reasonable person,” Masipa continued, “would have foreseen that possibility that whoever was behind the door might be killed by the shots and would have taken steps to avoid the consequences and the accused in this matter failed to take those consequences. The judge is expected to sentence Pistorius a few weeks from now and with no mandatory sentence for culpable homicide, Masipa will have a great deal of discretion over the punishment. Legal experts had earlier voiced surprise that Pistorius was found not guilty of murder, and predicted the case would likely not rest with the verdict. The trial, which has gripped South Africans and much of the world for half a year, has cast a harsh spotlight on the fallen hero’s private life. Full of high drama, the trial has fed intense media interest worldwide, with live broadcasts veering into the realm of TV reality. During proceedings Pistorius has broken down, weeped and at times vomited as he heard how his law graduate and model girlfriend’s head “exploded” like a watermelon under the impact of his hollow-point bullets. A key part of the prosecution’s case was its assertion that Steenkamp screamed during a late-night alleged fight with Pistorius before he killed her. But Judge Masipa said some of those witnesses who testified to hearing a woman scream in the pre-dawn hours of February 14, 2013 were “genuinely mistaken in what they heard, as the chronology will show”. That appeared to indicate that the defense had succeeded in raising doubts that Steenkamp ever screamed. The defense says the screaming was instead of Pistorius, who was traumatised and desperately calling for help in a high-pitched voice after realising he had shot Steenkamp in error. Anyway the culpable homicide – the South African equivalent of Britain’s manslaughter – carries up to 15 years in prison but has no minimum sentence. Let’s see what is written for Pistorius in future.

Dr. Vaidehi Taman
Dr. Vaidehi is an Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and an Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. Since 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond the news (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which she caters for her sister-concern Kaizen-India Infosec Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

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