As we approach Monday, we rub our hands in preparation for the most prominent murder case in the history of South Africa and in the history of the world since the United States of American OJ Simpson murder trial. The trial of the popular paralympian ‘blade runner’ who is the first double amputee to run with the able bodied in the Olympics has shown itself to be another such high profile case.
Oscar Pistorius is standing trial for the first degree murder of his law graduate and model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s day in 2013. He contends, however, that he shot her in error after mistaking her for an intruder. As the case enters its fourth week, the prosecution, having exhausted its witness list, is cross examining the first defence witness, Oscar himself. Oscar started his stint on the witness stand by making an apology to the mother and family of Reeva. The end of the last week saw the most critical and dramatic phase of the trial. The leader of thermos edition, Gerrie Nel, showed why he was referred to as bull terrier Nel in the legal fraternity when he tore into the emotional cocoon that Pistorius had created of himself.
As the week wound to a close, the bull terrier raised one of the most critical questions of the trial, that is, why Reeva did not cry out or shout when Oscar purportedly shouted for her to call the police and then proceeded to fire, not one but four shots at the closed bathroom door. The argument that Advocate Nel tried to present to Judge Sithokozile Masipa was that there was a reason why the deceased did not utter a sound during the shooting, that is, the couple had been having an argument and she was scared of the defendant. The prosecutor, who seemed to have taken a laid back attitude in the opening of the case, seems to have done his job well as evidenced by the swaying of public sympathy from Oscar to him as measured by social networks.
As we approach the opening of the case once again on Monday, legal experts are busy anticipating what Nel’s focus of attention will be given his notoriety in paying attention to fine detail. The big question that has been thrown around that the bull terrier may well focus on is on the door of the bathroom. It will be interesting and also critical to the evidence of the prosecution how the defence will explain away the locked door of the bathroom. Many in the media and the legal circles are certain that Gerrie will try to show that the reason why the door was locked was because Reeva was afraid of Oscar, which will most probably lend much credence to the theory of the prosecution that the two were involved in an argument which led to the shooting.
A further blow to the defence case are the utterances of the deceased’s sister to the effect that she believed that Oscar was lying his head off in his narration of the events. In her statement to the media, Simone said that she believed that Oscar shot her baby sister in a fit of rage and that the painful part was that he was lying about it. She said that her family had been ready to forget about the murder of their sister and attain closure but their hearts were hardening towards him as they realise that all he is trying to do is to save his skin and avoid the pending life sentence if he is found guilty.
We cannot help but wonder how the notorious Barry Roux esq will wriggle out of this difficult position.