For Oscar Pistorius

Happily I don’t live in a country where gun violence is an everyday threat and neither, happily , do I live in a place where people other than our military and police are allowed to use  guns and I don’t think it is possible here to own a gun weapon for  “self protection” and here only some people can lawfully own guns for sport and hunting.

Hardly a day goes by without some criminal or other  irrational shooting in the USA where gun laws are so lax and so many citizens own guns and where tragic “accidents” at home involving guns are also pretty common place.   Out of 640 murders here in the UK  in the years 2011-2012 a mere 44 were gun related.  Our police have an incredible rate in terms of convicting killers  and RSA police record by comparison is, quite frankly a joke.  I read that in the RSA for every 1000 crimes a mere  430   are arrested and only 77 convicted and barely 8 of these are given a sentence of more than two years. ( and 94% of those convicted offend which is an awful indictment of policing there.)

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I could not believe it when I heard that Paralympian Oscar Pistorius had shot his girlfriend and having met him, struggled to believe (and still do) , despite media hints that he was not quiet the gentle angel, that he could ever be capable of premeditated murder or that this could be anything other than a tragic accident.

Citizen gun ownership in the USA is a staggering percentage  in comparison to any other country on earth  and is the U.S. gun homicide rate is 20 times the combined rate of all other western nations. Yet In 2007, there were a staggering 8,319 gun deaths murders in South Africa, a country of roughly 49 million people. The United States No. 1 in gun ownership, and with more than six times as many people—had 9,960 gun deaths homicides in 2012.

I think the trial for Oscar will take place in March next year and meanwhile, with no disrespect for Reeva’s family or making  light of the terrible grief they have to endure,  I think that no court can impose any sentence on Oscar beyond the lifetime of remorse and guilt I just know he has to find a way to deal with. This case has attracted so much media attention including programmes looking at the actual evidence, and flagging up the incompetence of RSA police, compromising  the crime scene and forensic evidence  and with a  prosecution case which has not , in my view, a cat in hell’s chance of securing a conviction. The RSA police , as much as Oscar ,will be on trial in spring next year and unlikely to come out of it with any credit.

This to me is an indictment of a wonderful country emerging from the murderous horrors of apartheid and yet still relatively very violent and with a police force that raise so many questions in terms of their competence or ethics and hence , their conclusion that this was a premeditated murder I believe is  a flawed case and I have seen nothing credible yet to suggest it actually was . South Africa so needs heroes and role models and sadly Oscar’s fall from grace has been monumental and have now idea how he is going to cope in the future.

Of course he no longer interacts on social media and anyone showing support for him is a target and, ultimately  such things revolve around  “benefit of the doubt” and our own faith. I do think he appears to have been  reckless but  if he did not live in a country where violent crime is such an everyday threat , where it is so easy to own guns as a sort of macho play thing , this could not have happened.

7 Responses to “For Oscar Pistorius”

  1. michounette says:

    Thank you so much John, for your insightful, thoughtful and compassionate article. I totally subscribe to everything you have said although I would never have been able to express it so articulately. This brilliant athlete and lovely young man has been (is) a unique inspiration and it would be too awful if he was punished for this very reason. I am 100 per cent convinced that he desperately tried to protect his girl friend by trying to neutralise the perceived threat of a dangerous violent burglar as best as he could without his artificial limbs on. What happened is a tragedy for everyone except of course some sections of the press who will seek to sensationalise the facts in order to boost their sales.

  2. Denise OShea says:

    Very interesting comment. I also agree that in a violent country that the police who face murders on a daily basis are more likely to assume murder n not accident. I also think had this not happened then Oscars past although probably just as scrutinised would not lead the media to assume there was any dark side to his personality. Many seem so eager to label and condemn him and I have yet to read an article discussing his charity work his achievement in contermining and addressing disability discrimination and doing much for amputees in Africa. I agree that Oscar was reckless but fear and panic make people react in a way they normally are not. But then I don’t live in SA but more importantly I am not an amputee and I have no idea how I would have reacted had I being in Oscar’s position that night.

  3. Beverley David says:

    Thanks John for your comments and continuing support of Oscar. I live in the USA where we certainly struggle with crime BUT, from what have heard from people in SA, it is far worse. The public struggle with defending themselves against the worst kind of crimes including home invasions. Indeed what the rest of the world would consider “robbery” is not where the invaders stop in SA. They rape, mutilate, and murder during these acts. Added to all this fear is the lack of policing and a public belief that you have the right to openly arm and defend yourself. This is an every day reality for the people who live in that country. Now add being disabled. Add 3am in the morning. Add protecting a woman in the house. I had to ask myself when this tragic event happened why knowing all this do the people of SA (and so much of the world) readily believe Oscar Pistorius would murder someone he knew in the middle of the night? Is it basic human nature to think the worst of people? Is it the media who foster sensationalism to boost ratings and sell papers? Is it peer pressure, gang mentality, or simply herding to believe that a person, who has acted in a specific way for 27 years, would suddenly become someone else? Your observations and insight into a young life that showed nothing but strength, perseverance, success and drive are telling. Being a world-class athlete is no small achievement. If that was all Oscar Pistorius stood for it could be said that he was among the gifted few. But Oscar is a lot more than that. He become an icon. He become a brand. He became a movement. He challenged establishments. He fought against stereotypical prejudice. He made it “cool” to run with no legs.What did the “blade runner” mean to people challenged by physical or mental disabilities? He made them feel “ten feet tall.” He was a refreshing force for change. He believed that one person can make a difference. He wanted “abilities” not “disabilities” to define a person.To believe that he would throw away a career, his personal freedom, his entire life in a rash act of anger is ridiculous.The public, police, lawyers, and anyone else other than Oscar and Reeva don’t know what happened that tragic night. The police have their theories. Oscar has told his version.What is outrageous is the need for South Africa to show the world how tough they are on crime by making an example of this young man. For the world to condemn and denounce a person who has shown nothing but strength and honor for his nation and humanity sickens me. I hope that the judge cannot be persuaded by public and national need for a sacrificial lamb.

  4. Thank you John for your brilliant supportive blog about Oscar Pistorius. Like everyone else I believe in Oscar. It is such a tragedy for both families. May God help them. I have been following Oscar at the Olympics and have known him to be a nice guy who have inspired many people especially children with disabilities. Oscar have given them the courage to overcome their difficulties. Oscar has done an awful lot for the charities. He has bought recognition to the Paralympics. It is beyond comprehension that Oscar is capable of such a thing as premeditated murder. The media and SA has been behaving appalling towards Oscar. May justice prevail.Thank you.

  5. Heather Malcherczyk says:

    Dear John, thank you for your article and your open support of Oscar. I have not had the privilege of meeting Oscar although I did have the honour of watching him run at the London 2012 Paralympics. Like you, I too was shocked at the events of the 14th February, shocked and deeply saddened that such a tragedy should befall two young people in this way. However, I was more shocked by the media and public response, so ready to believe the worst and make their judgements without knowledge or insight. Not once have I believed that this was a case of calculated murder, nor anything other than a tragic accident, a result of the environment and circumstances under which citizens of South Africa live. Anyone who has made any effort to find out about Oscar and his life, would know without a doubt that this remarkable and gentle young man, with his dedication to his sport and the betterment of the lives of those around him, is not capable of such a thing. Like you, my heart goes out to Reeva’s family (I am a mother to two daughters) and I hope they find it in their hearts to forgive. Justice will not be served by making Oscar a scapegoat for gun crime and whilst I agree that the police investigation has been appallingly handled at times, I have faith in the judicial system and that a judge will see the truth and Oscar will be vindicated. It is clear that you are worried about Oscar’s well being and how he will learn to live with this tragedy in his future life and anyone who loves Oscar and knows his heart will share your deep concerns. But Oscar has a strong faith, he has the most remarkable family unit who love him unconditionally and he has the loyal friendship, belief and support of so many people across the world who care for him deeply. I pray that this will see him through the months ahead and bring him the peace and healing he o deserves.

  6. Carol Saayman says:

    John, it is just so heartwarming to see someone in your position supporting Oscar as you do. It is all too common at the moment to see and hear people so willing to believe the worst, before really having all the facts. I, like so many, just cannot believe that Oscar would deliberately throw away the wonderful life he had worked so hard to achieve, in a split second. I can only believe that this was a terrible accident, and I will continue to believe that until, and IF, I am proved wrong, which I don’t think will be the case. I just hope Oscar knows there are so many people who believe in and continue to support him.

  7. Haniki Kasselman says:

    I hope someone is capturing all these testimonies and positive, good wishes. They must be utilized where ever necessary. God bless you!
    Kindest regards!

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