I have the utmost respect and admiration for Oscar... 'the athlete'.
An athlete who dared to dream, and tenaciously paved a new path of possibilities for people with disabilities the world over.
An athlete who ignited inspiration within some who felt anchored by the weight of their circumstances.
An athlete a nation was proud to have bear their flag.
An athlete that I, and many millions of others, including a generation of children, consider/ed a sporting hero and a national treasure.
It is my impressions of Oscar 'the athlete', that guided whom I perceived Oscar 'the Man' to be. It was on this basis that the news that greeted me on the morning of Thursday February 14th came as such a shock. It wasn't long before that shock developed into disbelief, anger, disappointment, denial, questions, speculation, and more shocking denial. Surely it couldn't be true; however the raw festering wounds inflicted by the Lance Armstrong saga are a fresh reminder that throwing 'Clark Kent' off the side of a building, does not necessarily mean he can really fly. Our ‘heroes’ are as fallibly mortal as the rest of us.
The immediate aftermath of the Oscar and Reeva tragedy, almost feels like someone walked into a small room of a hundred people, and tipped out a 5000-piece puzzle on the floor; and suddenly it’s a frantic dash to try and fit the puzzle picture together... and everyone wants to finish it first. Nobody seems to care if a puzzle piece fits or not, they will shove it in all the same... and others will take a short cut and doodle on blank puzzle pieces and try convince the rest that it is 'the real deal'... because it came from a 'reliable source'. Our World is overly fixating on immediate gratification; we want everything to happen instantly. We get impatient when we have to wait for answers. Similarly, we the public, have been far too quick to form opinions on the guilt or innocence of Oscar. I am not saying that all of the sensationalist claims made about Oscar over the past few days are void of truth, but am stressing that not all of it is true and/or relevant. We should be cautious about speculation masquerading as fact, and strive to be objective.
Having spent the whole of Tuesday 19th February, fixated on the bail hearing for Oscar Pistorius, and the simultaneous memorial for Reeva Steenkamp, I understandably found myself being torn apart my contrasting emotions. The thought of what both sets of families were going through is simply too incomprehensible.
Having then read Oscar's statement, I have to confess to finding his version of events quite plausible, even if so many social media 'experts' have taken serious exception to parts of it. (Rightly so in part, as understandably there are still a multitude of holes to fill and questions to ask and answer; but that is best left to the experts during the trial itself).
One must remember that fear is not a rational emotion and can result in mindless irrational reactions (as has been the case in many mistaken identity incidents in the past).
A key moment today, Day 1 of the bail application, was when the prosecution said the charge was considered 'premeditated' because Oscar put on his legs, got his pistol, walked 7m to the bathroom, and shot into the toilet door (to those who missed it, there is a short passage between the cupboards that leads to the large bathroom, the toilet is in the far right corner of the room, and has its own door and window); but when the defence queried if the state was certain of their version that Oscar put his legs on before shooting, Gerrie Nel was not able to respond and said he would have to consult with the investigating officer. That information alone is a crucial determination for both sides. The angle of the shots will determine height, and thus show if Oscar had his prosthesis on or not; it would also help settle any debate about the distance he was from the door at the time.
We now know it as fact that Reeva was hit by three of four discharges. The infamous cricket bat the 'reliable source' claimed Oscar may have used to 'crush' Reeva's skull, notably didn't feature in the States version; had it indeed been used in an assault and caused serious injury as claimed, it would have been a crucial element in the States effort to motivate 'premeditated' intent. In Oscars brief version of events, he retrieved the bat after the shooting to break the door down as it was locked (he didn't 'kick' the door down as some reporters mis-tweeted from his statement. So too, before anyone questions why she would lock the door; consider that in new relationships, some people are quite shy about their toilet habits. I respectfully do not want to speculate as to Reeva’s ‘powder room’ procedure, but locking the door is plausible enough to be a consideration).
It must be said however, that there is also room to argue that the States view of premeditated murder is also in itself plausible; should they offer up something more than the legs/gun/7m/shot 4x argument. Thus far, by the end of Day 1, the State has shown very little of their hand, so to speak. Should they continue to play their cards close to their chest through Day 2 and fail to up the ante by revealing a more compelling argument, the Magistrate might well have little option other than to grant bail (although it should not be surprising that if bail is to be set, it may be quite high, and include very strict conditions).
I am not a legal expert, but I do have to wonder about the validity of the prior media reports, and if I recall correctly a mention of such by the police on the 14th during an interview, claiming earlier disturbances at the residence on the evening of the 13th. Nothing was mentioned in Oscars statement, although he did say he shouted for Reeva to phone security, and later screamed for help from his balcony. Surely the prosecution would submit this information to boost their argument for the premeditated murder charge, and to show just cause and possible motive? If indeed that information was accurate, it is pivotal.
That said however, this hearing is NOT a trial. Oscar’s statement was not required. He requested it to be read to give his account of events. Let's face it, believe him or not, given the vast array of theories, speculation's, accusations, etc etc over the past five days, I certainly don't blame him for trying to stem the deluge of speculation about the sequence of events. He has been crucified in the media, and already found guilty by the ‘Supreme Courts of Opinion, Speculation, and Rumour’ and the esteemed 'Social Media Legal and Forensic Society'. By making the statement, Oscar has effectively produced an outline for argument; it is now up to the State to prove otherwise… not the media (trashy British tabloids, or local
I honestly hope neither family ever get to read the News24.com nor News24 Facebook feed, because I can only imagine just how much harm and damage it may cause them. They have been through enough.
Whichever way this case plays out, the unfortunate reality of it is that a life has been needlessly and tragically lost, and a family is left with utter despair and loss. It saddens me that we are bombarded with frequent drops of information, be they factual or mere speculation; and the wholly despicable comments left by some disturbed social media delinquents. Does anybody consider how their heartless, spineless, baseless, defamatory comments might affect the family and friends of Reeva Steenkamp? Or the Pistorius family for that matter? What if this was my daughter, or my son? What if it was yours? Think before you comment. Are we as a society that void of compassion?
Let responsible civility and justice prevail.
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