News / Africa

Media, Spectators Pack Pretoria Court for Pistorius Trial

Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius arrives in court ahead of his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, March 3, 2014.
Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius arrives in court ahead of his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, March 3, 2014.
The murder trial against South African Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius has opened in the Gauteng High Court. While Pistorius entered a not guilty plea to charges he intentionally killed his girlfriend last year. Outside the court, a deluge of local and foreign media, as well as spectators, gathered along the street, fighting off waves of rain. Some South Africans are calling it the trial of the decade.

Pistorius stood in a packed courtroom late Monday morning and pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

  • Oscar Pistorius leaves the high court in Pretoria, April 14, 2014.
  • Oscar Pistorius outside the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, April 10, 2014.
  • Jane Steenkamp, Reeva Steenkamp's mother is comforted by a relative after her dead daughter's picture was shown on screen during the trial of Oscar Pistorius at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, April 9, 2014.
  • Family members, including uncle Arnold Pistorius, right, cry as they listen to Oscar Pistorius testifying in court in Pretoria, April 8, 2014.
  • Oscar Pistorius becomes emotional during his trial at the high court in Pretoria, April 7, 2014.
  • Members of the public crowd around Oscar Pistorius as he leaves the high court, Pretoria, March 12, 2014.

  • Oscar Pistorius cries as he prays with his sister Aimee and brother Carl at his indictment at the magistrates court in Pretoria, August 19, 2013.
  • This aerial image taken from video provided by VNS24/7 shows the home of Oscar Pistorius in a gated housing complex in Pretoria, Feb. 14, 2013.
  • Olympian runner Oscar Pistorius posing next to his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg, Jan. 26, 2013.
  • Oscar Pistorius celebrates winning the men's 400 meter final during the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Sept. 8, 2012.

The star athlete is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his Pretoria home on February 14, 2013. He allegedly shot Steenkamp through a bathroom door in his home. Pistorius claims he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder. The state argues that Steenkamp was murdered after an argument.

On the sidewalk opposite the courthouse entrance, local news operations reported live atop of scaffolding. Dozens of international television teams also were set up under tents. Cameramen and women jostled for shots as the attorneys and extended families of both Steenkamp and Pistorius arrived.

The case is being called the trial of the decade in South Africa, and satellite television provider DSTV has even started a 24-hour news channel solely dedicated to the case.

While a steady, often heavy, rain kept many away, there was still quite a crowd outside the court.

Edwin Mnisis, 20, a student at Tshwane North College nearby, decided to walk over with friends to see the commotion, and maybe catch a glimpse of the former Olympian.  "It's a high profile case…We want to see Oscar. We loved the man, we loved him. We want to support him," he said. "And hear what happened."

Barend van Dyk, of Pretoria, stood under an umbrella, watching who was coming and going. A manager for a catering company, he stopped by out of curiosity and plans to stop by every few days. "All the media is nearly here. I saw people from Japan here also now. That means they're all covering this story…I'm actually surprised how many media are covering today," van Dyk said.
 
Lebo Sabopa was among a group from the ANC Women's League. She plans to be outside the courthouse through the duration of the trial, in memory of Steenkamp.   "There's too much violence against women in this country, and that must stop," she stated.
 
The Women's League chanted and sang outside of the courthouse through the morning, as police dealt with traffic in front of the court.

Across the street, at DFC Express, a fried chicken fast food restaurant, employees were in constant motion, making coffee and preparing biscuits for dozens of journalists, who huddled under the restaurant's tent.

DFC's chief executive, Rene Jordaan, came down Monday morning to oversee business.  "Having the media here, especially the international media, is a bonus and benefit to all the businesses in the area. Not only the food industries, but also the hospitality trade. And, yeah, it's increased our coffee sales, that's for sure with this rainy weather," said Jordaan.
 
The outdoor restaurant put up a television under one of the tents, broadcasting the pop-up 24-hour Pistorius Channel.

Jordaan said while this might be good for business, it is still a tragedy, as well as a test for his country. "We all would like this to finalize as quickly as possible. I think that is the most important. It is a big question on our country and our law system in South Africa. We know the world watching us. So the quicker we can get it right, however which way it goes, it doesn't matter. As long as they do it properly and everybody's fair," he said.
 
The trial is expected to last at least three weeks.

You May Like

Multimedia Ferguson Grand Jury Reaches Decision

Missouri town, many Americans on edge over whether jurors will indict white police officer in August shooting death of unarmed black teen More

Corruption Fighters Want More From World’s Strongest Nations

Anti-corruption activists say final communique fell short of expectations and failed to fully address systemic problems More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid