News / Africa

South African 'Blade Runner' Granted Bail

South African Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius appears at the Magistrate Court in Pretoria on February 22, 2013.
South African Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius appears at the Magistrate Court in Pretoria on February 22, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Anita Powell
— South African track star Oscar Pistorius was granted bail Friday ahead of his trial for murdering his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp.  The ruling came after four dramatic days of testimony in what has become South Africa’s most gripping court case since the end of apartheid. 

After four days of testimony, Magistrate Desmond Nair ruled that the athlete would be released on bail ahead of his trial for murdering Steenkamp.

But the decision clearly weighed on the professorial magistrate.  Nair spoke for nearly two hours, even taking a lengthy detour into 17th century English law and South African law going back to the Boer war.  

The courtroom, jam-packed with madly tweeting journalists from around the world, collectively held its breath as he appeared to go back and forth on his decision.

But finally, the judge rendered his decision. "I've come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail," he said.

Relatives of Oscar Pistorius hug each other ahead of proceedings at the Pretoria magistrates court on Feb. 22, 2013.Relatives of Oscar Pistorius hug each other ahead of proceedings at the Pretoria magistrates court on Feb. 22, 2013.
x
Relatives of Oscar Pistorius hug each other ahead of proceedings at the Pretoria magistrates court on Feb. 22, 2013.
Relatives of Oscar Pistorius hug each other ahead of proceedings at the Pretoria magistrates court on Feb. 22, 2013.
Pistorius’ family, which has been faithfully attending the proceedings in Nair's Pretoria court cheered after the decision was announced.

Bail conditions

Nair set the bail at 1 million rand, about $100,000. Pistorius is required to check in with police twice a week, to stay away from his house, to turn over his passports and not leave South Africa and to appear in court June 4 for his trial.

And Pistorius must hand in all of his firearms as a bail condition.

Ahead of the day’s events, Pistorius’ longtime coach Ampie Louw, said he anticipated getting the runner back on the track as soon as possible. 

“The change is just that he's heartbroken, that's all," Louw said.  "And for me it's tough to see that.  You cannot reach out, sit next to him and say, ‘Sorry, man, this is a terrible accident,’ but I cannot do it.  I must just sit here and give my support to him and that's all.  I think just to get his mind cleared, the sooner he can start with a bit of work, the better.”

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel fought hard in an eloquent hourlong address to the court.  In it, he vigorously questioned the plausibility of Pistorius’ claim that he shot his girlfriend of three months on accident after mistaking her for a burglar.

“We say that the court should refuse bail.  The applicant has onus, the applicant gave a version that is totally improbable.  The state gave a version based on objective fact,” Nel argued.

Defense lawyer Barry Roux reiterated Pistorius’ argument in asking for bail.  He also raised two possibilities at the upcoming trial.

“And the question ultimately would be: how would a reasonable man have acted in the same circumstances?  That’s a very different test, and of course if he acted outside what a reasonable person would have," Roux noted, "then he’s exposed to be convicted of culpable homicide.  If … the finding is that he acted as a reasonable person taking everything in account, he will be acquitted.”

Even though the trial is months away, after this week's hearing, there’s no doubt that it will be closely followed around the world.

  • 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.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: D. Kimpinski from: Barrie Ontario
February 22, 2013 12:33 PM

I'd like to know about the cricket (BAT) if there was any blood on it, and whose blood, it belong to.I don't think he's telling it quite right.


by: Dan StlMo
February 22, 2013 11:09 AM
They couldn't make him wear an ankle bracelet?


by: Anonymous from: slobby
February 22, 2013 10:01 AM
Love the S African courtrooms. Awesome lighting.


by: hitman from: us
February 22, 2013 9:56 AM
Looks like the judge is setting this killer up to walk!

In Response

by: Ben ghazi from: Earth
February 22, 2013 11:06 AM
I guess the judge felt he wouldn't go on the run.

In Response

by: ranger01 from: New Hampshire
February 22, 2013 10:58 AM
No, the judge is setting him up for a reasonably fair trial. You know, sort of like it should be in a law court, in 2013.


by: Confused
February 22, 2013 9:51 AM
Just like a certain gentleman who ws released from prison with an illness and took up golf.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid