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

Afghan Government Says Taliban Leader Mullah Omar Died in 2013

update President Ashraf Ghani's office confirms Omar died in 2013, although Taliban sources continue to deny reclusive leader has been dead for more than two years More

Erdogan in China Amid Tensions on Uighurs, Missile System

Turkey's president has criticized China's heavy-handed policies toward Uighurs in violence-plagued Xinjiang region, where China says it is fighting foreign-backed separatists More

Critics: China’s President Using Law to Tighten Grip on Power

President Xi, who has stressed importance of 'rule of law' and law-based governance, has exerted increasingly tighter grip over society since coming to office 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.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs