A sportsman recognised all over the world. A tragic death. A trial with massive media attention. The name of the victim being almost forgotten. A policeman discredited on the stand. A contraversial verdict.
Yates could be writing about the Oscar Pistorius trial or the OJ Simpson trial in 1995. After today’s bail decision by Magistrate Desmond Nair, the similarities are striking.
Oscar Pistorius is the Blade Runner, the amputee athlete who has competed in the Paralympic and the Olympic Games. A role model for disabled people and for South Africa. His girlfriend, the model Reeva Steenkamp, was shot and killed on Valentine’s Day. Twitter has been abuzz with people reporting the bail hearing. The test match between South Africa and Pakistan has been almost ignored (SA 280/6 at the time of writing). BBC News are providing rolling coverage and analysis as this is being typed.
Taking nearly two hours to deliver a bail decision, Magistrate Nair outlined both prosecution and defence cases and highlighted issues he saw in those cases. In particular he listed a number of areas where he felt Warrant Officer Botha had been deficient in his actions. Yates has seen longer verbal kickings given but the way Magistrate Nair focused on him, it was clear that he was not happy with the deficiencies he saw from Warrant Office Botha. Be in no doubt that Warrant Office Botha’s deficiencies will be concentrated on by the defence when the trial takes place.
The next hearing is scheduled for 4th June. South Africa may not have seen the like of the media scrum that will surely descend on the country when the trial starts. The world spotlight will not only be on the participants in the trial but also on South Africa and its legal system.
Ask people if they remember the OJ Simpson trial. Then ask them if they remember the name of the woman who died.
Yates has a feeling that the OP trial may well become South Africa’s OJ trial.