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.
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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More