Tuesday 20th October 2015, Oscar Pistorius the word famous blade runner who was jailed for the death of his girlfriend in 2013 will be released under house arrest. His arrest and trial triggered a #Social media frenzy.
The media hype that followed his murder trial ended with much vitriol and accusations that he had been dealt with too lightly when he was found guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide.
The vitriol has not come from the legal community, but from those every-day citizens who are less likely to understand how due process works. Facebook abounds with comments that he pulled a trigger, therefore he murdered her. Combine a high profile personality with the fact that his trial was the first where live media coverage was allowed in the court during a trial, and the public opinions were always going to be heated and divided. South Africans flocked to their television screens and comparisons were made to the OJ Simpson trial.
Those supporting Oscar were concerned that the trial would turn into a media circus and there were concerns expressed about trial by media. Those who understand the rule of law in South Africa were reassured when he was found not guilty of murder. Too often African states are accused of moving the goal-posts when it comes to the law. The fact that Oscar was found guilty of a lesser offence than murder suggested that South Africa is in fact upholding the rule of law and is one country on the continent where a fair trial can be the outcome.
After serving a year of his prison sentence, Oscar was denied Parole earlier this month when the Minister of Justice challenged the move on a legal technicality. His family was concerned that the delays on his parole applications smacked of political interference and blamed the media hype surrounding his trial.
Women’s groups in particular are angry about the decision to release him from prison and would welcome a verdict of murder. One woman tweeted that the death sentence needs to be brought back for people like Oscar. Violent crime happens in South Africa every day, much of it far worse than the culpable homicide death of a girlfriend. The extreme reaction from the public stems from the fact that Oscar and his trial involved a high profile person and the novelty of court coverage by media.
Oscar has now been granted House Arrest under correctional supervision and is expected to serve the remaining four years of his sentence in this manner.
For Oscar the nightmare is not over by a long way and may possibly never end. The Oscar that South Africans placed on a pedestal and the perceived Oscar the Evil are not a true reflection of the real man. At the end of it all he is just a South African man who is entitled to the same rights as any other prisoner thus convicted, but the crusaders who will use him as fodder for their causes will chop him up like meat on a butcher slab to milk everything they can from his conviction.
The prosecution is appealing the outcome of his trail and intends to seek a murder conviction on 3 November 2015 through the Supreme Court of South Africa. This move is not unexpected as a government representative made it very clear following Oscar’s initial arrest that this case would show the people of South Africa that whites and rich people are not above the law.