Broken beyond imagination: South Africa’s justice system

pistorius for blog





A report by senior journalist, Ruth Hopkins
Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial, dubbed the trial of the century, has hogged the limelight since he was arrested for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year. The courtroom in the Pretoria High Court has become the focal point of the world’s media. Pistorius’ lawyer Barry Roux stole the show when he impressed both friend and foe by tenaciously laying bare inconsistencies in witnesses’ testimonies, narrowing in on forensic evidence incorrectly secured by officers at the crime scene and challenging the state’s version of events. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel has contested the defence’s evidence with equal tenacity. The legal spectacle that is unfolding has provided a breath-taking expose of the South African criminal justice system. This has led some commentators to conclude that the justice system itself is on trial.

The Pistorius case, however, is hardly representative of the criminal justice system in this country, but rather exposes the ugly face of class justice. The trial has revealed a level of quality of the legal process that the criminal justice system is capable of producing, when a defendant with ample financial resources is on trial and the glaring spotlight of the world’s media is focused on court officials.

British honeymoon murder accused Shrien Dewani’s arrival in a privately chartered plane – paid for by the Department of Justice – flanked by medical staff to tend to his unstable mental condition, similarly sends the message that the South African courts respect and uphold human rights, most importantly the right to a fair trial.

To read the full story as it appears in the Daily Maverick, click here
And on the Facts & Opinions website, here

dewani for blog



About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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