The trial of Oscar Pistorius for the murder of his girlfriend is a squalid affair being treated in a tawdry manner by meretricious people. It is, therefore, being promoted and publicised for commercial purposes by people without any concern for justice, truth of morality. These people mainly comprise the masters of the commercial media. Therefore it is advisable for the purportedly serious media to find strategies through which they can justify this atrocious behaviour and thus conceal their own fundamental contempt for their audience.
For instance, we are told that the Pistorius trial is a major test for our judiciary. How it can be more of a test for our judiciary than any other trial is difficult to fathom; apparently, however, since foreigners are watching, our judicial practice must be on its best behaviour. The judge must not talk conspicuous nonsense serving the interests of political or commercial masters, the attorneys must attempt to fulfil the requirements of the law, the support services must function as they are supposed to under the constitution.
These people saying this, therefore, want the Pistorius trial to be a charade through which the regime is attempting to fool foreigners into thinking that we have a functioning judicial system when we do not. It is rather like the USSR’s contribution to the Coronation Naval Review in 1953, to which the Soviets sent a Sverdlovsk-class cruiser which was widely complimented for the smart performance by its crewmembers — hardly surprising, since the Soviets had stripped the Soviet Navy of its officers in order to crew her! However, this was only successful because powerful people in the West wished to frighten the Western working class with the Soviet bogey and therefore it was in their interest to represent the USSR’s military as awesomely powerful. It is not in the interest of powerful people in the West to give favourable comment to the South African legal system, and therefore they will not do this simply because of the Pistorius trial.
It is, however, worth noting that this trial has not, in its first week, exactly covered the legal system in glory. The incapacity of the state in Pretoria (which is, after all, an Afrikaner heartland) to provide a competent translator from Afrikaans to English (even though these are the two most affluent ethnic groupings in South Africa and therefore those most likely to go to court over matters of commercial importance) was startling. The blundering of Pistorius’ advocate, one of the most highly-paid in the country, is also notable; he has, for instance, “accidentally” revealed the private cellphone number of a state witness, and “accidentally” failed to notice that one of the centrepieces of his cross-examination contradicted Pistorius’ pre-trial affidavit. If this is the best the South African bar has to offer, they should at least be made to wear clown-shoes under their robes.
Another, slightly less contemptible, contention, is that the Pistorius trial will show, or at least serve as a signal, that the government and people of South Africa care about the rights of women. It would, of course, be nice if the government cared about women who are not white, rich and beautiful, but supposedly to be deeply concerned to protect millionaire supermodels is a start. Actually, however, it isn’t. Sandile Memela has already rightly pointed out that if Pistorius had shot and killed a black man in his toilet, nothing like this would have happened, the trial would be over, Pistorius would have got off with a caution and would be running around happily as if human life were of no consequence at all. One might justly suspect, moreover, that almost everybody would be less enthusiastic if the victim of the shooting had been named Donna Mbongweni.
Instead of (very ineptly and hopelessly) trying to use the trial to further the agenda of South African politicians in their efforts to misrepresent South Africa in the outside world, perhaps we should ask ourselves what the trial actually reveals to us.
The issue is simple. A rich man’s son became a celebrity by becoming a track star, despite being crippled by the loss of parts of his lower legs, thus also becoming an inspirational figure to many. Being rich and popular he acquired a pretty girlfriend. Then he shot the pretty girlfriend and has gone on trial for it. So far this is anything but an attractive story, but it is hardly unsurprising that a person whose public image is largely the creation of hired agencies should turn out to be repulsive in reality; it is the task of public relations industries to make shit smell like sugar.
The basic assumption which one makes when one partner in a relationship kills the other, is that it is murder. Partners inevitably antagonise each other. All relationships undergo strains and conflicts. (When one partner has a deadly weapon, the possibility of murder during one of these conflicts goes up alarmingly.) So it is up to Pistorius’ lawyers to prove that this is not the standard situation of inter-partner conflict escalating into murder, and this is going to be a difficult thing to prove — all the more difficult when one is dealing with a man of great personal vanity and insecurity who may also have been taking performance-enhancing drugs whose side effects include promoting unpredictable outbreaks of rage.
The best way to elude this problem would surely have been to prevent the case from going on trial in the first place. If the country were truly run by rich people all working together in a sinister conspiracy to protect themselves at all costs, this is surely what would have happened. We would have been told that Ms. Steenkamp had died in a tragic accident, and presently that Mr. Pistorius was in seclusionary mourning, and then we would have heard no more unless some ill-advised journalist published some facts and got sued and then fired, after which the facts would have been suppressed. This in fact is what happens when a crime takes place, like Brett Kebble’s murder, where rich and powerful people would be endangered by the solution of the crime. Therefore, we can safely assume that the Pistorius case is not one of this kind; while Pistorius’ father is filthy rich, he himself is merely a rich man’s playboy son, and therefore not entitled to special protection. (If the father committed a similar crime the consequences might have been very different.)
So it is left to the defence lawyers, who, thus far, have not done a tremendously good job. The first problem is that Pistorius’ defence — that he thought that his girlfriend was a burglar hiding in the toilet and therefore shot the supposed intruder four times without warning, sight unseen — reflects amazingly badly on Pistorius’ character. Some commentators have declared that this is a typical white South African paranoid response which harks back to the apartheid regime, but this leaves out the fact that this was a gated residential area continually patrolled by a squad of armed security guards, and therefore ought to have been one of the safest areas in the whole country. This is not a panicky irascible old codger defending his Braamfontein or Gardens abode against encroaching darkies with his trusty handgun. If this is the way the ruling class choose to live, we must view them with a combination of pity and contempt.
The evidence also strongly suggests that Pistorius’ girlfriend was screaming before he shot her, and that all the house lights were on. This has led the defense advocate to make the widely and justifiably mocked claims that the witnesses must have confused Pistorius’ shouts with a woman’s screams, and confused the sound of Pistorius breaking down a door with a cricket bat with the sounds of a heavy-calibre pistol being discharged. Of course a lawyer must support the client up to the limit of credibility, but this seems to transcend that limit quite far and it uncomfortably reminds one that this is the lawyer who defended the conspicuous crook Brett Kebble on charges of having cheated on his income tax (which, of course, he had).
It would appear that the ruling class are protected by bodyguards of shameless liars, who are obliged to tell such lies because they have to protect the lies told by the ruling class out of their own stupidity. Anyone else planning to kill their partners would surely not make such implausible claims as Pistorius has told — and yet very similar lies were told, for instance, around the Kebble trial, and were prevalent in the legal shenanigans which surrounded the ruling class’s installation of Zuma in power. Manifestly the ruling class, knowing that they are buttressed with cash, are not at all concerned with making things credible — quite possibly they are excited at the thought that they will escape the consequences of their criminality courtesy of bribery and a rigged legal system. Though it does not seem very likely to happen in this particular case.
Of course the legal system is rigged. Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron has proclaimed it so. Everybody else knew it already, but nevertheless it is interesting that Cameron confirms it. Interesting because Cameron did not follow this up with his resignation from the Constitutional Court and from legal practice and with his going off to work in some vaguely useful sphere in order to make up for all those years devoted to serving the corrupt whims of the ruling class and trampling on the interests of the overwhelming majority. Of course, a lawyer must be without any sense of responsibility or honesty, but then it is surely advisable not to pretend to have such a sense by criticising the inhumanly corrupt practices in which one is engaged.
But what matters for the affluent is that the corruption favours them. And, moreover, when the system is not corrupt, when it is compelled to behave in an honest fashion, then it also favours them; the trial of Pistorius will show that South African justice can be seen to be done, and therefore it will be pretended that there is anything like real justice in the country. It would perhaps be better if the trial were an obvious charade. Where William Zanzinger is handed-down a six-months sentence for murdering Hattie Carroll, then at least nobody can to point to the trial and lyingly claim that it shows that the ladder of law has no top and no bottom.