Georgina Guedes

A view on Oscar Pistorius from abroad

2014-09-12 09:33

Georgina Guedes

I am not in South Africa at the moment. When I heard that the date of judgement in the Oscar Pistorius's trial fell on the last few days of my trip to Greece, I wasn't particularly perturbed that I would miss out on South Africa coming to a standstill yet again as the technicalities and legalities played out.

My travel companion and I met up with some friends in Athens, and conversation naturally turned to the trial. The prevailing view is that the runner killed Reeva Steenkamp in a fit of rage, and that no sane person would believe otherwise.

Enter Judge Masipa.

What can be proved

By now, the world is reeling from the news that in the eyes of the judge, Pistorius did not intentionally kill Steenkamp. I am not a legal expert and cannot put forward an opinion on her legal interpretation of the facts. I do understand that something has to be proven rather than decided on gut feel - and she clearly feels that murder was not proven.

The problem is that the only witness to what happened is Pistorius himself, and he ain't telling what went on on Valentine's morning last year. Although he was not a credible witness, Masipa seems to think that he's given a version of events that provides sufficient reasonable doubt about the charge of murder. I suppose we have to grant her that.

This judge clearly has a sense of theatrics, as do many people in the legal profession, so we await the conclusion to yesterday's cliffhanger today. Last night, as I walked the streets of the Hydra, I heard no conversation about the trial from the various different nationalities scattered about, but when my friend and I started talking about it, people from another table were interested to hear what we had to say.

Again, we encounter that widespread belief that he's getting away with murder.

However, like I said, I am no legal expert, but I am going to stick my neck out and offer an opinion on what's going to happen next. I believe that Judge Masipa will find Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide today. Simply put, this will mean that although he did not intend to kill Steenkamp, he committed actions that he should have known could have resulted in her death. Like, duh.

The secret's in the sentencing

I think that the real stinger in the tail will come at sentencing, when Masipa throws the maximum sentence for that crime at him - ten years.

If she does act as I have suggested, I believe it's a fairly elegant solution to the complexities of the whole sorry situation. She won't have put a man in jail for a crime that he says he didn't commit, but she will have found him guilty of a fairly indisputable crime. She can punish him and his gun-totin' ways within the full extent of the law for a crime she - and everyone else - is certain he did commit.

Of course, the problem with sticking my neck out about events that are unfolding as I type is that I will be proven right or wrong in very short order (although sentencing is still a couple of weeks away). But however this resolves, the tragedy of the loss of Reeva Steenkamp's life can not be undone, so I hope that the judgement and sentencing brings her family some peace.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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Read more on:    reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius
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