Posted in disability, editorial, Olympics 2012, opinion on January 25th, 2016 by John Coxon

oscar PISTORIUS medal


London’s 2012 Paralympic Games was a milestone first in terms of the long awaited media parity with the conventional games and playing, for the first time,  to equally packed venues making  a number of athlete’s with a disability celebrated as national heroes and role models and the public’s eyes at last open to the human potential of athletes with a disability.

However, the UK’s government hard sell to our nation of both games focused on the cash returns and benefits to us all from that  huge tax payer investment and that of licensed business partner funding  and government justified that investment by a predicted so called “ legacy”  where attitudes to disability would be changed forever and grass roots young  citizens of all abilities would be inspired and empowered to take up sport and lead more active and fulfilled longer lives.

As with the conventional games, the real legacy of the Paralympics was never seen in terms of improvements in grass roots and other sport and improved overall growth in participation in sport yet  banked as clear profit by the major global corporate sponsors as the cynical amongst us pretty much expected in a major even seen as what it is , a sacred cash cow.

Ironically. while bandwagon jumping global corporate sponsors like junk food pimping McDonalds and Coca Cola banked incredible returns for their capital investment, (seeing the games as a route to healthy option credibility by being associated with healthy living as their only remedy when the facts point to their products  actually being globally life-threatening)  this nation is still  actually waiting for the promised pay-off, that so called “legacy” to be delivered.  To this day, most sport in the UK, able-bodied  and disability sport, (and the vast majority of their young aspiring sportsmen and women) still very much are either self-funded or rely on Nationally Lottery and other charity funding.

It is clearly a fallacy to presume that without his prosthetics the athlete would be as fearless and confident as he clealry was on track with those blades

It is clearly a fallacy to presume that without his prosthetics the athlete would be as fearless and confident as he clealry was on track with those blades

Participation in sport at grass roots, both able boded sport and disability sport, has not seen  significant increase in active participation since London 2012 ,  quite the reverse , whilst increased childhood and adult obesity through lack of exercise remains a growing national health problem costing the nation billions and young girls especially have not been so inspired.

The expected “sea”  change in public attitudes to disability  has actually been, as it always has been, tokenistic and very modest where hate crimes against vulnerable people with disabilities, especially visible disabilities  in the UK are actually on the rise post 2012  and we see , also , a catalogue of often violent abuse of the disabled and vulnerable  people in residential  homes by their “carers”  and also the sexual abuse of such people in care situations.

Those famous blades are actually very basic and rather crudely engineered.

Those famous blades are actually very basic and rather crudely engineered.

Full independence , access all areas and maximum fulfilment of potential for people with a disability is implied as a given  for the public in the outstanding achievements of our Paralympians but the reality on the ground, especially at grass roots, is actually very different and the most  internationally recognisable  Paralympian Oscar Pistorius  and the most recent tragic events in his life really bring home the fallacy in the public consciousness that things for people living with a disability have actually changed that much and neither  have attitudes changed and neither in fact has the discrimination all people with a disability and additional handicaps still have to live with 24/7 and so on the basis of his treatment at trial has Oscar Pistorius.  Oscar himself off the track is of course susceptible to all those normal handicaps that face the disabled everyday because his famous blades only guaranteed him mastery on a running track and nowhere else and were designed to be context effective and not for general daywear.

Oscar on his "Ossur" running prosthetics.

Oscar on his “Ossur” running prosthetics.

The Icelandic  company  Össur ( named after innovative philanthropist prosthetics pioneer Össur Kristinsson, who developed a silicone interface for prosthetic sockets) dropped,  like a ton of bricks, their brand ambassador Oscar Pistorius as soon as the announcement of Reeva’s death at the hands of their single biggest global marketing asset  athlete  broke and up till then such a nice little no risk huge earner for them .

When we take a hard look at their actual  “blades” which empowered Pistorius, solely on the track, to achieve his potential , they are incredibly  crudely engineered , bent carbon fibre crudities with a few bolts and yet mega expensive and I am sure like all other adaptive aids for the disabled grossly over priced and of course have a limited shelf life so buying one set is not an option.

everyday disability aids are still relatively crude & the best are out of the price range of many ordinary people.

everyday disability aids are still relatively crude & the best are out of the price range of many ordinary people.

With amputees, at grass roots, I, for example , have a friend, ex military, who like  all people with disabilities in the UK, appear to have a benevolent National Health Service who provide prosthetics, wheelchairs and other adaptive aids as a right and free of charge  but those free aids do not reflect modern technological front runners and essentially people are given wheelbarrows in lieu of decent chairs and relatively crude prosthetics a kind of wooden peg leg equivalents and if you want anything better you will have to buy in from the private sector who consistently take advantage of their market by charging excessively in my view putting independence and reaching full potential still out of reach for the majority by virtue of cost.


The ultimate irony in this fake post 2012 Paralympic games utopia is the abusive dismissal of the athlete Oscar Pistorius, once disability and disability sports most influential ambassador , as falsely assumed to have been trying to buy his way out of responsibility for his girlfriend’s tragic death ( which he has never ever actually denied being responsible for but also that it was the result of a tragic accident and not as now deemed murder with intent) and exhausting his supply of sponsorship  capital and prize money and selling also his luxury home.

oscar pistorius at start

This in order to fund a defence, yes true ,  few in the RSA could actually afford and yet the state chose to make this a central court show trial, for the first time ever  in front of live TV cameras very much against the defence’s wishes, and  where similar cases  are normally tried and go almost unnoticed in regional courts and so cost much less ( and also typically allow plea bargaining and offer non-custodial suspended sentences as the norm and in fact still do.)

Pistorius  has also been accused , especially in the relatively anonymous and unaccountable , relatively poorly informed court of social media-led public opinion, of cynically capitalising on his disability as a defence when of course reference to his disability at the time of the actual accident, (when he was not on his blades but handicapped by being on  his so called stumps ) was actually made not by him , but his defence team. This  not because the athlete was looking for excuses to avoid responsibility but because it clearly must have been a vital factor in increasing his fear and sense of even greater than normal vulnerability when tackling head on a perceived lethal threat in his own home in the early hours of Valentine’s day 2013.

No similar case has ever been subject to an appeal by the Prosecution to a higher court and then successfully led to a high court judge’s legitimate verdict being overturned and re-invented as murder based on a pretext of a matter of law (rather than more justly based on evidential facts that judge based her decisions on.) Courts at all levels in the RSA and elsewhere are not accustomed to defendant’s with a disability accused of serious crimes before them and in general lack the knowledge or understanding to allow mitigation based on disability factors which affect people’s action.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) dismissed the athlete’s disability as a causal factor helping justify  his actions as they did factual evidence from the actual trial that he was an overly anxious man when it came to personal safety and security but not a vain aggressive unbalanced man capable of violent abuse and wilful slaughter of his tragic girlfriend.

The SCA were disability discriminatory and  essentially re-tried Pistorius as if he acted as the London 2012 track superman but with x ray vision, and  still oozing confidence ?  while grovelling on the bedroom  floor in the early hours having been rudely awakened and on his stumps facing what was to him a  very real and potentially life threatening threat.  Yet , the so called learned judges had the temerity to presume a superhuman level of self control to be able  stand back, in a split second , make a risk assessment, weigh up all the possible outcomes if he used his gun, do a quick cost benefit analysis of possible consequences, and an assessment of whether he was acting lawfully.

They also expected him to have used clairvoyant powers to judge whether anyone was actually behind the closed door or actually posed any real threat and this in a relatively secure gated apartment complex albeit in the most dangerous province in RSA in terms of violent gun killings and a city with ever spiralling violent crime and home intrusion statistics. Oscar, the first Paralympian to run officially against able bodied athlete’s in the Olympics, and acquitted himself well there but in effect the SCA in the way they came to their conclusion is like judging Oscar and pitting him as an equal against  Usain Bolt and reasonably expecting him to match or even trump him.

Find me on Twitter at johncoxonmedia and use the #OscarPistorius twitter tag to find the many supportive factual references I have made to the athlete’s case but also find a growing album of fact based “photocards” I have produced to help raise awareness of the athlete’s case and treatment in law which i have found most unsatisfactory.  My Facebook 





Posted in Olympics 2012, opinion, Parasport on January 17th, 2016 by John Coxon

Oscar Pistorius and RSA Flag with fans

Unlike Gauteng’s notorious contaminated bully beef, self confessed killer Schultz & his buddy Bachelor (surely in court solely to intimidate the defendant’s family and likely welcomed by Prosecutor Nel) Oscar Pistorius, through traditional devout Christian values, self-discipline, personal sacrifice and achievement under this flag taught the world to think again about disability and made RSA proud even though as a country it had and still sadly has huge economic, social and political problems after the fall of apartheid as yet to be resolved and control systems yet to be seen as truly fair and effective.

That includes an unwelcome ever increasing huge violent crime record and obscene number of guns deaths only on a par with outright world leader per capita in that regard the USA. Yet ironically, Oscar, as a South African resident, in this evidently politically chaotic and often dangerous place, his accidental killing of his own love Reeva may very well lead to a much needed review of questionable, ineffective corrupt policing in South Africa and weaknesses and anomalies in its post-apartheid justice system clearly still then in its infancy just 22 years in. The trial has laid bare the system and put it under constant scrutiny from the world’s media.  Ever increasing greater racial tension fanned for example by the largely globally unreported  numerous murders of white farmers by racist, disadvantaged tribalists further challenge the system. And more so with ever increasing citizen fear of violent crime the numbers of law abiding (increasingly anxious for their own and family safety citizen) more and more homeowners are choosing to seek licence to own lethal weapons for self defence from armed home invaders.

At the very least, the extraordinarily perverse re-invention of the athlete by the justice system from involuntary killer, tragic victim of circumstance, as was his beloved Reeva, to cold blooded murderer will have huge implications for gun owning citizens defending themselves, their families and property from violent armed criminals in the future if Oscar’s appeal is ignored by the ailing rainbow nation’s highest court this April.  If Oscar Pistorius’s application for appeal to the Constitutional Court fails, or is heard without addressing and revoking the SCA’s highly questionable overturning of a Judge’s verdict as well it might, all gun licensed property owners will thereafter be handicapped from protecting themselves in fear of the real risk of being branded as wilful murders, killing an armed intruder even as a last resort and the customary norm of handing out suspended sentences will be replaced by significant custodial sentences.

If emerging post apartheid “reformed” state, having abandoned the universally tried and tested jury system, continues to accept and allow the legal licensed ownership of lethal weapons for self-defence, using SCA logic,  it has to have foreseen and accepted lethal consequences as a likely outcome and take responsibility for those consequences in a dolus eventualis kind of way. The very same State’s self-fulfilling SCA over zealously, incompletely and erroneously applied  dolus eventualis in order to scapegoat Pistorius, misusing the personal tragedy of its most famous son (and ignoring evidential facts and replacing them with its own)  to appear more robust  and just than it actually currently is.  If justice prevails, the original verdict will be allowed to stand and Oscar will have delivered, by default, the very lessons South Africa’s own legal system appears to urgently need.

Footnote : It seems incredible that Prosecutor Nel  has not been held to account or disciplined by his  state employees  or his profession’s over-seeing body for misconduct in grossly exceeding behavioural norms for acceptable practice in examining the defendant  and effectively slandering the defendant again and again and delivering what was a fictitious portrayal of, and public assassination of  the athlete’s character completely refuted by the Prosecution’s own psychiatric expert clinicians ?

No disciplinary action, it appears, was taken against the first on the crime scene  group of police who disturbed and contaminated the crime scene, stole and moved property or the officer who corrupted  the chain of evidence (in not securing the door at headquarters ) and those some forty officers found to have unlawfully taken phone photographs of the athlete and the crime scene and neither have lamentable failures in forensic practice been investigated or challenged or subject to disciplinary action.

Has former lead detective Botha ever been disciplined for delivering conflicting evidence or indeed properly investigated or indeed ever charged, in connection with the attempted murder charge hanging over him  which caused him to be dropped from the case  and later retire?

Have leaks to the press from the trial and photos and other information and misinformation from the prison whilst the athlete was in custody ever been properly addressed or investigated as prejudicial to the case and the athlete’s rights?

Has apparent intimidation of the athlete’s family outside and inside the courtroom by known criminals been investigated? Has the unique  practice of allowing live broadcast of the Pistorius trial been evaluated  and any assessment made of how it may have affected, for example,  trial participants behaviour, the willingness of possibly key witnesses to testify, infringed the rights of the defendant and humiliated him and likely  put further unnecessary intense pressure upon him when he was evidently continuously distressed and  vulnerable and  is there any evidence that it has any benefit in terms of ensuring a fair trial when other countries bar television and photography in court to ensure fairness ?

Has anyone asked who actually benefitted from televising the trial or why Oscar Pistorius was the first target of this unprecedented “innovation” ? Certainly not the defence or the defendant and  hard not to conclude that clearly the intention was to make an example of the athlete, capitalise on his global fame, and  try and thereby demonstrate the robustness and impartiality of the justice system whilst actually achieving the reverse for impartial observers?

Given all the factual evidence that actually stood the test of trial and that gave the honourable Judge Masipa no other option than to dismiss the charge of murder and reduce it to accidental killing, and taking into account all the factors I have detailed above, it, to me, defies belief how either the Supreme Court of Appeal or so many citizens can feel so confident or justified in branding Oscar Pistorius as a murderer and violent abuser of women.

If the athlete was,  as Nel , at trial, implied or directly accused him of being,  a two-faced persona, a golden boy to the world but behind that image a reckless  man, with a hidden history of unstable and a temperamental pugilistically inclined personality and liar, abusive in relationship with women, why could  he not bring witnesses to evidence that?

How could Nel dismiss the athlete’s visible distress and grief in court, his sobbing and vomiting,  as a staged performance to shy away from responsibility,  and yet reasonably expect a person in such a vulnerable state, under such intense pressure , to give consistent responses and testimony even after, in the the light of the State’s own expert clinical assessment which confirmed that his personality was not thus flawed and his grief and distress genuine and essentially trashed Nel’s argument ?

Was not Prosecutor Nel’s inappropriate relentlessly aggressive attritional questioning, as I suspect, cynically staged to break Oscar Pistorius in court and or to illicit a confession from the athlete, where surely, to have been pushed so far and yet  to have not incriminated himself or caved in, strongly suggests the athlete was being honest in his version of events and did not deliberately cause the death of Reeva.

How also can it be lawful or fair, when, having you would reasonably expect,  prepared a solid case and gathered all pertinent and available evidence and witness testimony to give reasonable grounds to secure a conviction, the prosecution was permitted and empowered to extend the trial period, and the defendant’s  misery with a lengthy mid-trial hospital personality assessment , where the precedent, in more robust legal systems elsewhere outside of South Africa, is to always commission such reports pre-trial?

Does it not strongly suggest that all the evidence justly presented to the court had proved inadequate to trash the defendant’s version of events and his character and secure a conviction based on that charge and the prosecution in fact then over-stepped the boundary seeking a fresh source of evidence to try to justify its prejudices only to have them refuted by their own experts?  Why at this point, given Nel’s continued unprofessional aggressive style and the revelations from the clinic was this not declared a mistrial as it would have been say here in the UK, where very likely, in view of double jeopardy, Oscar Pistorius would have been acquitted and could not have been retried for the same offence and the original charge could never have been reduced to a lesser one without a retrial and following an appeal to a higher court.

For any sound conviction for murder, the onus is on the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant acted with deliberate intent and to present irrefutable evidence to that effect and the prosecution abjectly failed to do so. It is incredible that a state expert is on record for taking the view that Oscar Pistorius murdered Reeva intentionally  in a fit of rage but  “couldn’t prove it.”

It simply defies belief that the in South Africa the prosecution were empowered to use a higher  Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) when they failed to get the verdict they wanted and  able to  call upon it  to challenge Judge Masipa’s verdict on their behalf, undermine her credibility  and that the SCA,  despite knowing that factually, evidentially ,  the Prosecution could not prove  intent, they were able to conclude that the athlete did act with intent. Here reaching that decision not in an appropriate trial but in camera, and dismissing and ignoring all factual evidence including the State’s medical  assessment that found no evidence of wilful intent or  personality traits  matching  the profile of a murderer.

In Britain above the Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court in England,  is a bronze gilded statue of Lady Justice, an icon for balance and impartiality embodied in the scales she holds  and setting the expected standard  that all comers on trial receive the same treatment regardless of race, gender, celebrity or ability or economic status. Oscar Pistorius was tried in the High Court in the capital city of Pretoria and immediately became the focus of world attention via the media with the expectation that he would be treated impartially despite his apparent wealth and global celebrity but did he really get the same treatment as any ordinary citizen?

In some respects the actual outcome seemed a fair and just conclusion in spite of him receiving a custodial sentence where the norm for ordinary mortals is to be released in similar cases of apparent home intrusion with a suspended sentence and clearly, in a flawed attempt to appear impartial and transparent a  trial was, for the first time, allowed to be broadcast live despite the generally accepted  shortcomings of such a step  in terms of threatening impartiality  and securing a robustly fair trial without participants being affected or indeed intimidated  by the presence of TV cameras and a global audience .

A fair trial does not need the world as a witness or as confirmation of the robustness of a legal system. Following the verdict and sentencing the world seemed divided between relief and acceptance of a fair outcome and contempt and anger based on the misconception that because of his wealth and fame and indeed colour, Oscar Pistorius or rather his defence team were able somehow to broker a “soft” sentence and duck the charge of murder confirming that, in the court of public opinion, there is no such thing as a fair trial .Meanwhile  the self-appointed, self-fulfilling arrogant  matriarchal pressure group, the ANCWL , having attempted to hijack the trial to suit its own agenda, helped fuel the common misconception that the athlete was guilty of a domestic violence murder and therefore should have been given a lengthy custodial sentence despite the fact that there was absolutely no evidence that the athlete had a record of such abuse , or had a violent character  and was in a normal loving relationship according to the State’s own psychiatric experts with tragic Reeva.

(The ANCWL  group  focused on the trial of  this prominent wealthy white man and sought to capitalise on the intense media attention the trial attracted yet, by all accounts, are normally conspicuous in their absence from  cases of genuine domestic violence  of  actual abusive men from all walks of life which invite little media attention. )

Why on this occasion, where previously, for example, in the very similar case of Siyabonga Mdunge, originally charged with murder of his wife and unborn child having mistaken her for an intruder in the early hours, was this non-celebrity businessman able to broker a plea bargain deal with the Prosecution and take the  customary suspended sentence and yet Oscar Pistorius jailed a year plus a further four under house arrest and how is that equal treatment under the law or consistency?

Would the State Prosecution have sought to appeal to a higher court to overturn Judge Masipa’s verdict if Oscar Pistorius had not been a celebrity, I personally very much doubt it and would that higher court have found the Prosecution’s favour I very much doubt that too. Both decisions  are it seems,  politically motivated at the expense of Justice.

The insult to one of the South African legal system’s own respected High Court Judges, Soweto born Thokozile Masipa,  and the patronising  praising of her delivered by Judge Leach when announcing the SCA’s decision, ignoring her assessment of all  the evidence and  dismissing her verdict as unsound is hard to stomach or understand and seriously undermines  confidence, not in her, but the Justice system itself.

This should be a huge cause for concern to all thinking  South African citizens who should be rightly concerned at the likely impact on all citizens in the future should this extraordinary outcome for Oscar Pistorius not be overturned by the Constitutional Court and amendments made to current practice and systems to clarify the test for proving intent and make systems more equitable and transparently fair.

How can it be just that Judge Masipa will be called upon, if the appeal the Constitution Court is unsuccessful, and  forced  to sentence Oscar Pistorius for murder when her valid assessment of all factors and all available evidence and acting  in accordance with the law as customarily practiced at the time , she concluded beyond reasonable doubt that the athlete is not a murderer and therefore how could he be now?

The SCA’s decision surely smacks of the conservative legal establishment conveniently setting a new precedent in terms of changing the application of a legal principle and then applying it unjustly and retrospectively , and thus , for them, proving only hypothetically,  intent and where the actual evidence, correctly interpreted by Judge Masipa, led her to be unable to  come to any  other conclusion than there was no such intent. Both the Prosecution, by default, and later the SCA, for convenience, ignored all pertinent factual evidence and thus both unjustly presumed and maintain there was intent.

(To be continued) , under the heading:-


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