Opinion: Oscar Pistorius Trial Reveals SA’s Confused Discourse

Opinion: Oscar Pistorius Trial Reveals SA’s Confused Discourse

From BDlive

The verdict in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial was always going to divide the country given how determined to prevail the two sides in the matter are. Pistorius’s supporters are delighted that he has been “vindicated” while the rest believe he got away with murder and should have been found guilty.

Judge Thokozile Masipa is now in the centre of a storm, and the decision of her court (it was unanimous between her and her two assessors) shall be the subject of discussion for many weeks and months.

I shall refrain from offering my uneducated opinion on the matter. Apart from not yet having had the chance to read the judgment, the emotional and often irrational discussion that has ensued is thoroughly exhausting. I don’t have the energy for it.

What I am interested in is how much this trial has shown us about SA’s confused discourse and the deep ignorance that permeates it.

Let us start with the lead prosecutor, Gerrie Nel SC. Not so long ago he was labelled an apartheid-era cop who was resurrecting a racist agenda against African National Congress (ANC) leaders when he prosecuted Jackie Selebi for corruption, for which the latter was convicted by the way. He was Gauteng boss of the now-disbanded Scorpions, which of course were considered the height of “imperialist” evil in some political quarters.

As soon as he took up the Pistorius case he became a hero to many, including those who not so long ago regarded him as an example of what is wrong with SA’s judicial system. I would not be surprised if these latter-day supporters of his grab and earnestly shake his hand next time they see him at the shops to sympathise with him on being “shafted” by the court when his was an open and shut case.

If you find the moral acrobatics around Adv Nel astonishing, then you haven’t noticed how many more people are somewhat conflicted. The ANC Women’s League has been a prominent feature of this trial. They supported the family of Pistorius’s victim, Reeva Steenkamp. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

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