(Photo : The Times)
“By this evening, we will know a little more, but by no means the full story.
By then, Reeva will have been laid to rest.
God bless her, and her family.”
There is an irony in the events of today. Reeva Steenkamp goes to her final resting place, and Oscar Pistorius enters the starting blocks for the toughest race of his life. On the way, some of our colleagues have become psychologists, judges and jurors, and Oscar in some quarters, is already a condemned man. When we penned our first piece on this tragedy, we had no idea that Reeva was a daughter of a fellow horseman, Barry Steenkamp. We can only imagine the desperate pain he and his family are feeling, and like all of us, they’ll all be searching for answers. From all accounts, she was a rare human being, beautiful, accomplished and greatly esteemed by her friends. You can ask no more than that from anyone.
The one thing the world appears to have overlooked in relation to the charges Oscar now faces, is the tactical element to the State’s case. Oscar has a lot of explaining to do, as he is the only witness to what actually happened, yet the State has a mountain to climb in proving pre-meditation in the murder rap they’ve laid at his door. On the face of it, it seems plain that there are only two possibilities here, and that alone. It was either a crime of passion, the sort of impulsive response that comes when human beings snap, alternately, from what we’ve learnt in the press, it was a terrible mistake, in the belief that Pistorius was dealing with an intruder. The point is, facing a charge of pre-meditated murder under the sixth schedule of the Criminal Procedure Act, he will have to commit himself at this early stage in the proceedings, to a revelation of the nature of his defence. That binds him going forward to that story, and limits the possibility of alternate options, whereas if he was charged under the fifth schedule, it would be in the interests of justice that he be granted bail as a matter of course.
The term “pre-meditation” implies an element of planning, and this does not look remotely like it. That’s the reason his defence team did not call for an earlier bail application, as they obviously needed time to probe the circumstances in detail, and to present the best case they could this morning. From a legal perspective, both sides have engaged some of the biggest guns they could find, and we are in for a battle royal. Again, we can only urge Oscar to tell it like it is, remembering how quickly public sympathy not only ebbs, but turns to hostility when their heroes avoid the truth. Racing does not linger on its fallen; it prefers to hail its survivors, and survival here, in the minds of most of us, flows from the sympathy which is associated with the truth.
Theories abound in the Twittersphere, some have already categorised him as having a particular disorder, yet none of us really know. One thing’s for sure, the answers cannot be found by pouring through old interviews with Pistorius, or from his now silent Twitter account. This is a murder investigation, not a guessing game. Something has gone horribly wrong, and whether it was psychological, drug-induced or otherwise, only his trial will reveal. None of us know how a man who lost his legs at 11 months of age feels about his relationship with women, for example; none of us know what his triumph over his disability, and his becoming the first man of his ilk to participate in a normal Olympics, did in forming his character, and none of us can predict with any certainty how these things have played themselves out in his behaviour, his relationships, and what brought him to this day.
What we do know, is that he had become a sporting hero, not only in this country, but across the world, and that this terrible event has elicited comments from the highest levels of his sport, Usain Bolt among them. By this evening, we will know a little more, but by no means the full story. By then, Reeva will have been laid to rest. God bless her, and her family.