As the aftershocks of Judge Masipa's judgment reverberates across South African households

2014-09-14 22:12

Kameel Premhid's perspective on the platform of voices.news24.com on how South African's reacted to Judge Masipa's judgment of September 11 finding Oscar Pistoruis not guilty on the main count of murder but guilty on the alternative but competent charge of culpable homicide fortifies what I have to posit here. ( vide "Leave Judge Masipa Alone")

My perspective

--------------

Almost every newspaper led with the interesting perspectives and public perception on the judgment that Judge Masipa handed down. It is clear that South Africans were gobsmacked that Oscar Pistorius "walked" after being found not guilty for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, although he was convicted on the equally competent charge of culpable homicide.

I have a different take.

Around the same same time and days that the media frenzy that force fed a fickle world blow by blow of what was transpiring during the Oscar Pistorius trial, in a few court rooms away a similar fact trial wherein an indigenous African was also facing trial for the brutal murder of his girlfriend. No journalist covered that.

No flash of lights from whirring cameras or a battalion of reporters storming the courtroom. As a report in the bowels of the same newspaper that blazed away with the Oscar Pistorius story read, in that court room was the accused, his legal representative, family members of both the accused and the victim and of course the judge, state prosecutor and court officials. Almost unobtrusively, that matter proceeded a few court rooms away.

Why? A young woman, like Reeva Steenkamp, admittedly nameless and not as famous as her, was brutally murdered. Her case was no less deserving of the spotlight too.

I urge you,dear subscriber, to check this out.I know for I recall reading about this in that newspaper.

All I read was a few columns in the same paper used as a filler or a footnote.

I dont know what became of the fate of that African. If you know or find out,let us know too for murder in domestic relations occupies more than statistics that quietly cry out that one in four women die at the hands of their loved ones. Now here's an irony as I bite my tongue at the mention of "loved one".

My point is that we are vicariously venting our feelings in the case of people whom we do not know about in a situation of domestic violence that rarely makes the headlines.

In both cases, it was murder most foul. In Oscar's case he walked not because of his fame and fortune, as Kameel posits in his blog piece, but because of the extraordinary efforts to prove direct intent to kill Reeva Steekamp,in which the state failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt and so Oscar walked. Inferentially it was the state that failed.Period.Wealth and resources played a role in ensuring that Mr Pistorius got the best defence team money can buy, but in the end it was the state's failure to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Oscar had the direct intention or dolus to murder Reeva.

And the learned judge had to render her verdict without fear or favour on the evidence that was led. That comes with the job.For her efforts she suffers the slings and arrows of a society that has been baying out for Oscar's blood.

At least he was convicted of culpable homicide which could ,I repeat could, attract a non-custodial sentence because of his extraordinary physical and mental condition.

Its painful to read how armchair wannabe judges and critics maul judge Thokozile Masipa hardly touching Gerrie Nel with their barbed comments.

We read about the possibility of an appeal against that judgment but in cases where the onus is on the state to discharge and all that was presented was circumstantial evidence, there were several inferences that could be drawn and dolus or direct intention to kill Reeva was not the only inference that could be drawn to the exclusion of other inferences.

I wonder what if Oscar was an indigenous penniless African , and there have been many such who grabbed the limelight for their criminality and who literally walked because the state failed to prove its case against them. No venom or bile was poured against the judges or people who failed to secure a conviction against them. Just in case someone pays the race card recall the alleged rape case involving cricket legend Makhanya Ntini whose public persona got him the spotlight he could do without.

I agree with a story carried in the Sunday Times that " the Pistorius verdict matters because these crimes happen so often today". But lets look at the facts as proved and even though we may be disappointed and cry foul that Oscar got away by the skin of his teeth, lets face the reality, the state, if you pardon the pun, didn't have a leg to stand on.

The next time you step into the court room, take a careful look at the blindfolded lady with the scales of justice in her hand.

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