I read a rather moving blog yesterday about how the world has lost
a hero with the events in South Africa involving Oscar Pistorius.
As has been mentioned many places before Oscar shot to world renown
when he took part in both the Olympics and Paralympics last year,
coming away with two Paralympic gold medals and one silver. A bigger
achievement than that though was to raise the awareness of the
capabilities of disabled people. I was lucky enough to get to see some of the Paralympics live, on Day 4 I spent the morning in the Olympic Stadium, unfortunately due to me having Tonsillitis at the time my memory of that morning is mainly of sweating and shivering whilst people around me shouted, but I was there for the moment Aled Davies won his gold medal in the Discuss and Stef Reid won her Silver in the Long Jump, and watching them back on
Youtube brings back memories. Mainly of the sheer excitement of a stadium crammed full of people that were there to see disabled people competing, many of whom wouldn’t have given a second thought to attending such an event a month or two before. In some small way Oscar was partly responsible for that feat.
I have been following the media circus that surrounds his bail hearing (note that he isn’t even on trial yet, this is just to see if he can be granted bail) in the hope that he isn’t a monster and have all his good work undone.
Following the hearing notes shows a back and forth, tit for tat battle between the prosecution and the defence, with Police evidence being discredited, and murky pasts being dragged up, and all the while a man stands in the dock knowing he killed someone he loved and that his career, and life, will pretty much be over.
There is no escaping the fact that Oscar Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp, that is not in question, only if it was a deliberate act to kill. The prosecution are pushing the fact that Oscar fired four shots into a closed door suspecting someone was behind it, their argument being, quite rightly, that the only reason to take that action was to kill whoever was behind the door, whether that be a burglar or Reeva. The implication being that a decision was made by Oscar to kill another person and so, the killing was premeditated.
Oscar hasn’t stood up in court and answered any questions, given the state he’s been reported to be in he probably wouldn’t have been able to. So his version of events has been given by affidavit. I have included a link to a transcript of that affidavit that forms part of his bail application at the end of this post.
I have read through his version of events, and there’s a few things that stand out that have been glossed over by the prosecution:
- The affidavit tells how Oscar went out onto the balcony to retrieve a fan, it never says the balcony doors were open before hand, despite the Prosecution claiming they were to nullify claims that Oscar was afraid of violent crimes.
- The prosecution question how Oscar could have missed Reeva getting up to go to the toilet as she would have made a sound, however fail to consider that Oscar would have been outside on the balcony at the time she arose and so any sounds from inside would have been muffled.
- There was a half moon in the sky and little to no cloud cover, which would have been reasonably bright, so when Oscar returned to the bedroom and closed the curtains his night vision would have been poor.
- The prosecution claim that Oscar would have been able to see if Reeva was in bed when he walked past, but I would question that, haven’t you ever been half asleep and seen a duvet crumpled up and thought someone was in bed when they weren’t? Also no mention has been made of the fact that Oscar would be viewing the bed from a completely different angle to most people if he didn’t have his prosthetics on. His view would be from almost two foot lower and so completely alter the angles.
- The prosecution presents evidence from a witness that she heard a set of gunshots from the property followed by what sounded like an argument and screaming and then more gunshots. The prosecution are saying this is evidence of a heated row between the couple implying that Oscar intended to kill Reeva. Oscars affidavit (bearing in mind it was written before the prosecution gave their version of events) clearly states he shouted a warning, fired shots at the toilet door, returned to the bedroom and found Reeva missing and so rushed back to the bathroom calling her name (which would could have sounded like a heated argument), on finding the toilet door locked he rushed back to the bedroom, opened the balcony door and screamed for help (notice the word screamed, as used by Oscar), put on his prosthetics and the started battering the toilet door with a cricket bat (which in the quiet of night could well be similar to gunshots).
- The Prosecution claim that the phones discarded in the bathroom show that the couple were in the bathroom arguing. Could it be more probable that Oscar grabbed whatever phones he could to make a call, and upon getting through to the security centre the discarded the rest to enable him to concentrate of getting to Reeva?
Oscars affidavit describes a situation where he comes in from an illuminated balcony to a very dark environment, he hears a sound in the bathroom and knowing he lives in a country where intruders are known to be extremely violent to the point of raping and murdering inhabitants, he fears for the lives of himself and his girlfriend whom he believes is asleep in the bed. He grabs his gun to defend himself and goes to investigate. He sees the bathroom window is open, and knowing there are ladders outside assumes that an intruder would have come in that way, he shouts a warning, hears movement in the toilet and fires blindly at the door thinking he is shooting an intruder that, in his mind, would be looking to kill him and rape his girlfriend. Upon discovering Reeva is not in bed he fears the worst, he fights to try and get to her. He doesn’t call an ambulance or the police, instead he calls the security of the complex he lives in, knowing that the call will be quickly answered and that they will be able to deal with the process of calling the emergency services and giving them the details, whilst also being able to send someone to help.
The Prosecutions argument is that Reeva and Oscar had been arguing, in a fit of RoidRage (bought on by using the Testis compositum found in his house, a substance used to overcome impotence and exhaustion) Oscar deliberately shot Reeva through the bathroom door with the intent of killing her, and didn’t call for emergency services but instead hunted for a memory stick containing details of his offshore accounts. When police arrived the front door was unlocked and Oscar had removed Reeva from the scene of the crime.
There are many questions in this case; did Oscar intend to kill Reeva? Was Oscar acting in self defence firing on what he believed to be an intruder? If it is accepted that he wasn’t trying to kill Reeva should he be tried for Culpable Murder of an intruder?
Magistrate Nair eventually came to the conclusion that the case for the Prosecution had not put forward enough compelling evidence to withold Bail from Oscar, and so Bail has been granted. In his comments Magistrate Nair was scathing of the way investigator Botha had acted and handled the case, and also the that prosecution had put forward little to compell him to withold bail other than the perceived seriousness of the crime.
There is no doubt that there will be a media frenzy following every step of the case, but one big question I would ask you to consdier is how far would you go to protect yourself and your loved ones if you thought someone was in your house who wouldn’t think twice about killing you?
Need less to say, that thoughts go out to Reeva Steenkamp and her family at this time.
The bail application and affadavit: