Piece published in the Huffington Post
Listening to the Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair’s ruling was a drawn out process with tweets indicating that Oscar Pistorius could have taken a flight around the world and arrive back in time to hear the verdict. But after a little under 2 hours, Nair granted Pistorius bail, which was immediately followed by an audible ‘Yes!’ from members of his entourage.
Granting Pistorius bail was no easy verdict to reach and at times it sounded as though Nair would have to just toss a coin, as there seemed compelling gaps in both side of the argument as to what really happened. Why had Reeva Steenkamp locked the door to the bathroom? Why didn’t Oscar Pistorius say anything before taking a shot? How could he have passed by the bed and not noticed she was out of it?
Equally, the lead police officer on the scene was given a telling off for having bungled a number of elements on the scene and for offering inconsistent stories, such as the nature of the steroids found or the distance of the witnesses who heard shouting were from the house.
Just over half way through the lengthy lecture on South African law and its history of granting bail that preceded the ruling, it became clear that the Magistrate considered that the prosecution had done enough to jeopardise the legitimacy of Pistorius’ bail appeal. However, it was the fact that Pistorius was not deemed to be a flight risk that seemed to clinch it for him.
When they started the hearing, I really wasn’t sure what to think still, but as it went through, I found Pistorius’ case increasingly credible and felt myself leaning towards the eventual outcome. There did not seem to be a sufficiently strong enough case against him at this point, even if there were serious peculiarities in his testimony, as reported by the Chief Magistrate.
At best, it looked like this was going to a case of someone behaving terribly wrecklessly, which may be a disposition born out of a life with a disability in a nation with a terrible criminal history and a predilection for gun ownership. These explanations were not given of course, but I expect they will come out in the trial. Chief Magistrate Nair mentioned that Pistorius offered an unusual amount of detail in his testimony for a pre-mediated murder case and that this was to his credit.
It is still hard to believe that Oscar Pistorius could be convicted for pre-mediated murder. All of the testimonies are generous to his personality, which is consistent with the status he has enjoyed over the years. In part, this is why the case is so fascinating, as it threatens to completely destroy our impressions of a person. Such public betrayal is always going to be big news. This is likely to be the trial of the decade.