News / Africa

S. African Judge Rules to Partly Televise Pistorius Trial

FILE - South African Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius appearing at Magistrate Court in Pretoria.
FILE - South African Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius appearing at Magistrate Court in Pretoria.
Anita Powell
The trial of South Africa's most famous athlete, Oscar Pistorius, can be televised live, a judge ruled Tuesday.  South African journalists say they hope this ruling will open up the country's courts to media coverage.

Pistorius goes on trial next week in Pretoria for murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp.  

He says he mistook his girlfriend of three months for an intruder in his Pretoria home; the prosecution claims he shot her intentionally.

Oscar Pistorius

  • Born without fibula bones
  • Legs amputated below the knee at 11 months
  • Ran with carbon fiber prosthetics that earned him nickname "Blade Runner"
  • In 2008, successfully appealed ban against competing in major competitions
  • Failed to qualify for Beijing Olympics
  • Won gold in 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters at 2008 Paralympics
  • In 2012, became first double-amputee to run in the Olympics
Pistorius shot to fame by being the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics, in 2012. He also has won a slew of medals at the Paralympic Games.

The confluence of celebrity, sex and sports contributed to a storm of media interest, with hundreds of journalists jockeying for just 80 seats inside the courtroom.  A South African station will launch a 24-hour channel dedicated solely to the case.

In a radical departure from normal procedure in South African courts, Judge Duncan Mlambo ruled Tuesday that parts of the trial may be televised live.  The request was brought to court by several prominent South African media houses.

Yusuf Abramjee, the head of news and current affairs for Primedia Broadcasting, said he was happy with the ruling.

“We obviously welcome the judge’s ruling.  It’s a victory for free speech, it’s a victory for media freedom, and it’s a victory for our constitution, which guarantees us the right to have access to our courts," Abramjee said.

The ruling comes with strict conditions.  Video cameras will be remotely manned from fixed positions, parts of the trial are off-limits, and witnesses can choose in advance to opt out of being televised.  

The ruling comes with strict conditions.  Video cameras will be remotely manned from fixed positions, parts of the trial are off-limits, and witnesses can choose in advance to opt out of being televised.  

Also, the camera will not be allowed to focus on Pistorius himself, even when he testifies.  For pictures of Pistorius during the proceedings, TV stations will have to rely on a courtroom sketch artist.  Photos of him will be allowed only when the judge is not seated.

Despite the limitations, Abramjee says this trial is just the beginning.  South Africa’s boisterous media has previously attempted, with little success, to film other high-profile trials, such as those of President Jacob Zuma, who was tried and cleared on charges of corruption and rape.

Abramjee says Judge Mlambo's ruling is a "final step" to ensuring courts are open to the media.

“Obviously the Oscar Pistorius trial is something different -- it’s no ordinary case, he’s a high-profile international figure and this is why we are having the world’s interest," Abramjee noted. "But most certainly it’s going to the future.  This will open the door for us to go and broadcast similar cases with high public-profile interest, and we believe that it’s the beginning of a change of the judiciary and its access to the public going into the future.”

The trial begins Monday, with millions of people around the world tuning in, live.

  • Oscar Pistorius's lawyers Barry Roux (L) and Brian Webber prepare documents before the start of the application to appeal some of his bail conditions at a Pretoria court, March 28, 2013.
  • State prosecutor Gerrie Nel prepares for a hearing in the Pretoria, South Africa high court, March 28, 2013.
  • February 22, 2013: Oscar Pistorius in court in Pretoria, South Africa for his bail hearing.
  • Relatives of Oscar Pistorius hug each other ahead of proceedings at the Pretoria magistrates court February 22, 2013.
  • Reeva Steenkamp's casket arrives ahead of her funeral ceremony in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, February 19, 2013.
  • Feb. 19, 2013: Carl Pistorius, right, and Henke Pistorius, the brother and father of Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, charged with the shooting death of his girlfriend attend Oscar's bail hearing at the magistrate court in Pretoria, South Africa.
  • Investigating officer Hilton Botha, the lead detective in the Pistorius murder case, during a break in proceedings, February 21, 2013.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

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