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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
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 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.

VOA Blogs

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