News / Africa

Reactions Stream In on Pistorius Bail Decision

Oscar Pistorius is seen through a car window as he leaves court after being granted bail, in Pretoria, South Africa, Feb. 22, 2013.
Oscar Pistorius is seen through a car window as he leaves court after being granted bail, in Pretoria, South Africa, Feb. 22, 2013.
— An audible sigh of relief went up in the courtroom when the Chief Magistrate announced that South African Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius could be released on bail. For Pistorius' friends and family, it was a brief moment of celebration.

Since the bail hearing in his murder case started on Tuesday, famed double amputee athlete Oscar Pistorius has been coming and going from the Pretoria Magistrate Court in the back of a police vehicle, usually with a blanket covering his head.

On Friday afternoon, Pistorius left court in a silver Range Rover, with darkened windows. While many in the media gave chase, it was the first taste of freedom the South African Olympian has had since he was arrested in the early morning hours of February 14 for shooting his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

The prosecution claims it was a premeditated murder, the defense claims Pistorius mistook his girlfriend for a burglar.  

Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius' uncle, Arnold Pistorius, speaks to journalists at the end of the bail hearing at the magistrate court in Pretoria, South Africa, Feb. 22, 2013.Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius' uncle, Arnold Pistorius, speaks to journalists at the end of the bail hearing at the magistrate court in Pretoria, South Africa, Feb. 22, 2013.
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Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius' uncle, Arnold Pistorius, speaks to journalists at the end of the bail hearing at the magistrate court in Pretoria, South Africa, Feb. 22, 2013.
Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius' uncle, Arnold Pistorius, speaks to journalists at the end of the bail hearing at the magistrate court in Pretoria, South Africa, Feb. 22, 2013.
Pistorius' uncle, Arnold Pistorius, gave the only family statement after the bail decision Friday afternoon.

"Yes, we are relieved, with the fact that Oscar got bail today," he said. "But at the same time we are in mourning for the death of Reeva, with her family."

He maintained his nephew's story is true, saying, "As a family, we know Oscar's version of what happened that tragic night. We know that that is the truth and that will prevail in the coming court cases."

Medupe Simasiku, spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, said the prosecution has to focus on the trial.

"It's not necessarily disappointing," Simasiku said. "It's normal in the criminal justice system that the bail can be granted or denied. Definitely we accept that it has been granted. Accepting it is not a point where we are going to be disappointed and lose hope in this case, we have this confidence we will make through this case."

Outside of the courthouse, there were both supporters and those who felt Pistorius should be kept locked up.

Down the street from the courthouse, Pretoria resident Steve Fourie felt Pistorius should stay inside.

"He should not get bail. Definitely not," he said. "If you have money in this country, you can get out of this country very easily. It's not a problem. And I think he will go out of the country…I'm not a big fan at the moment of him. It's very cruel what he did to an innocent person. He took a life."

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South Africa Pistorius
South Africa Pistorius
Sarida Bezuidenhout, who drove an hour from Rustenburg to stand outside of the courthouse, had a different take.

"I'm just here to support him. Just to let him know that my heart is going out to him," she said. "I feel sorry for him and I always believe, and I tell my kids that too, You're innocent until proven guilty."

While reactions to the bail decision stream in, the bigger decision for Pistorius is further down the line. His next court appearance is set for June 4.

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Comments
     
by: Anne
February 23, 2013 5:35 PM
After noting every detail in this case, I can start to believe that what he did was a terrible mistake. The reaction in the courtroom was not of selfishness but of trauma and overwhelming remorse. A person who reacts like that, on a daily basis, is emotionally incapable of looking at someone in the eye and taking their life. To note, these kinds of situations happen in South Africa more often that you think, family relatives being mistaken for intruders. If this was a family relative, or anyone else, other than a girlfriend, I think the case wouldn't be getting as much attention. We're just so use to believing the scenario of the abusive and controlling male partner one day just losing it in a fit of rage and killing his girlfriend/wife/significant other in cold blood; that ideology is so engrained in us that even if the truth were to be said, many of us wouldn't be able to see it. Many of the details from the case that were originally reported, such as the bloody bat, were fabricated. The domestic assault they are referring to wasn't even an assault. He asked a woman to leave his property, she refused, and he slammed the door in front of her, accidentally catching her foot. We will have to wait and see at the trail, but this kind of behaviour from a person who is accused of premeditated murder is actually quite abnormal, when compared to all the other criminals.


by: thebun from: usa
February 22, 2013 6:43 PM
While I felt much emotional pain for the death of a woman I don't even know, I also felt empathy for Oscar, also someone I don't know, only because the look of grief and shock on his face was that
of a very broken young man who may have actually made a horrible mistake and actually took the life of his beloved by accident, and he was trying to deal with his intense personal pain.I too believe that you are innocent til proven guilty.

In Response

by: Andy Lord
February 23, 2013 6:08 AM
One word that cannot be applied to Oscar is "innocent." He killed that woman. The only question is why. At the very best, he is guilty of negligent manslaughter, or as you referred to it, "a horrible mistake." His intense personal pain could just as easily be interpreted as the anguish of someone who knows he's going to prison--even if he's telling the truth, he's a trigger-happy loose cannon who very negligently snuffed out a wonderful young woman without taking the most normal precautions. His life will never be the same--deservedly so.

In Response

by: Baraka from: USA
February 22, 2013 11:53 PM
Watching Oscar at the Olympics overcoming his shortcomings inspired me to start going to the gym and quit complaining of my asthma! so far i have lost 25 lbs down to 145 lbs! Feeling lots of empathy and compassion to each side of the family and may the truth prevail. RIP Reeva.

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