News / Africa

    S. African Superstar Runner Appears in Court on Murder Charges

    Athlete Oscar Pistorius weeps in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Feb 15, 2013, at his bail hearing in the murder case of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
    Athlete Oscar Pistorius weeps in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Feb 15, 2013, at his bail hearing in the murder case of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
    South Africa's superstar sprinter Oscar "Blade Runner" Pistorius arrived in court on Friday to face charges that he murdered his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his luxury home on Valentine's Day.

    Two police vehicles arrived at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court, with the amputee athlete sitting in the back of one, his head covered in a jacket. He was expected to apply for bail during the hearing but police have said they would oppose it.

    Self-defense?

    Professor Steven Tuson, who teaches at the University of Witswaterand's School of Law in Johannesburg, discussed what possibilities could be ahead in a court case, though he emphasized heavily that without all the facts or evidence, little can be concluded.

    Videoclip of Pistorius

    S. African Superstar Runner Appears in Court on Murder Chargesi
    X
    February 15, 2013 1:21 PM
    Olympic track-star Oscar Pistorius broke down in tears as he appeared in court Friday to face charges of killing his fashion-model girlfriend, in a high-profile murder case that has stunned South Africans.

    Tuson says some experts think Pistorius' team will use a self-defense argument.

    "Objectively though, he wasn't being attacked," noted Tuson. "It was on the version given that he thought it was an intruder, there can be no actual self defense, as it wasn't an attack. It was his girlfriend surprising him.. And so the defense raised is an interesting one. It's called Putative self defense and that is an intention defense, it goes to his state of mind. The defense is that he honestly and verily believed he was responding to an intruder and defending himself."

    Even if that defense is accepted, there will still be questions, Tuson says.

    "The second inquiry of the court would be is he guilty of manslaughter or, in our law, culpable homicide? Which is the negligent killing of another person," he explained.  "The court, even if it accepts his version that he thought he was being attacked, would examine his conduct, his behavior at the critical moment against the standard of a reasonable man, and ask was he was negligent in discharging his firearm in those circumstances."

    Possible sentence

    If he is found negligent in any way , Tuson says Pistorius could face prison time.

    "If the court finds a small amount of evidence that was causal to the death, this will be reflected in a light sentence. If the court finds his behavior extremely reckless and dangerous in the circumstance, the court will show that with a harsher penalty," said Tuson.

    • Olympic and Paralympic running star Oscar Pistorius stands during court proceedings at the Pretoria Magistrates court, August 19, 2013.
    • Oscar Pistorius cries as he prays with his sister Aimee and brother Carl in the magistrates court in Pretoria, South Africa, August 19, 2013.
    • A man holds signs ahead of the court proceedings of Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius at the Pretoria Magistrates court, August 19, 2013.
    • A woman holds a photo of Reeva Steenkamp as she leaves her funeral in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, February 19, 2013.
    • Oscar Pistorius weeps in court at his bail hearing in Pretoria, February 15, 2013.
    • Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp at an awards ceremony in Johannesburg, November 4, 2012.
    • A newspaper vendor sets up his stall outside court ahead of Pistorius' court appearance in Pretoria, February 15, 2013.
    • Carl Pistorius, brother of Oscar, attends his brother's court appearance in Pretoria February 15, 2013.
    • This aerial image taken from video provided by VNS24/7 shows the home of Oscar Pistorius in a gated housing complex in Pretoria, South Africa, February 14, 2013.
    • Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius leaves the Boschkop police station, east of Pretoria, South Africa, February 14, 2013.
    • Oscar Pistorius celebrates winning the men's 400 meter final during the London 2012 Paralympic Games, September 8, 2012.
    • Pistorius celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men's 400m T44 classification during the London 2012 Paralympic Games, September 8, 2012.

    Target practice

    Pistorius, who reportedly was a frequent visitor to shooting ranges over the past few years, might be held to a higher standard for pulling the trigger, given his training with firearms.

    "The higher you are trained, the greater the competence - you will be held to that greater standard," he said.

    Pistorius' status as a national hero - the most recognized man after former President Nelson Mandela - will play a part in this case says Tucon.

    "I think it’s a very high profile matter and, therefore, will be given priority in terms of investigation time and resources. And I don't anticipate too much delay,"  added Tuson.

    You May Like

    Leaving Scalia Replacement to 2017 Would Mean Unusually Long Vacancy

    History of high court shows Obama not in unique situation during final year of presidency

    US Fact Checkers Debunk Some Republican Presidential Candidate Claims 

    Slim evidence for several claims made by Republican presidential candidates at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in South Carolina

    Uganda Presidential Debate a Small Victory for Democracy

    In homes and bars across country, Ugandans were fixated on their screens as eight political candidates running for president took part in national debate

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.