Matthew Lester: Judge Masipa got Oscar judgement spot on. Here’s why.

For the past two years even the National Budget Speech has been chased out of the media spotlight by Oscar Pistorius. The money made by all must add up to billions more than the loss of Oscar’s fortune.

From his perspective he has truly experienced redistribution of wealth.

Anyone who has a daughter or a spouse must be shocked by the Oscar verdict. Please don’t lose faith in the South African legal system yet. Perhaps Oscar’s defence has at last reached its high-water mark. And in October the tide may well turn.

I am not a not a lawyer or a psychologist. But I have been fascinated by the case, not from what one sees in the press, but by trying to imagine the true strategy in the minds of the players.

Reading Barry Roux’s mind is not difficult – charge like a wounded bull! Until there is nothing of Oscar’s millions left to gain.

If it was on Oscar’s mind to kill Reeva we will never know. I give him the benefit of the doubt simply because if he had planned it he would have known enough about guns to fire the warning shot that would have got him off the hook. If he did plan it ‘may his grave be on a mountainside where the sun will never shine.’

The debatable part of the murder verdict is did Oscar intend to kill whoever was behind the loo door. I think just loading with black talon ammunition should be enough to sway that.

One can be forgiven for thinking that Gerrie Nel has wasted huge resources in bringing the murder charge in the first place. Why didn’t he just go for culpable homicide and be done and dusted.  Some even ask ‘why wasn’t there just a plea bargain.’

Bringing the murder charge has allowed Gerrie Nel to expose the true horror of the case. And that has created an important Court atmosphere of an appalling case of negligence and use of excessive force, not just a routine case of culpable homicide..

If anything has come of the case it has exposed the horror of guns and dumdum bullets.  In the Anglo Boer War, captured commandos were executed by firing squad for just carrying one dumdum bullet. Their use was banned from warfare as far back as the Hague Convention of 1899. Today anyone with a license can buy ‘black talon.’

Yes, it is every South African’s right to carry a gun. But equally those who carry guns must be held accountable if their negligence results in horror like this.  We must create a precedent that you carry a gun at your peril. Especially if you load with black talon.

Perhaps Gerrie Nel is being very clever. Bring the murder charge so that the case cannot be dismissed as culpable homicide ‘oopsie.’ Maybe that was his plan from the start.

Judge Masipa has been quite fascinating to watch. Because this is not a jury case she has hardly interfered with proceedings, other than to make Gerrie Nel cool it on the odd occasion. That’s very clever. Whatever happens she can never stand accused of putting a foot wrong during proceedings.

Judge Masipa will be a prominent figure in our courts for years to come. But she is casino online unlikely ever to hear a case like this again. It will be her Magnum Opus. And she is being very careful to make absolutely sure that she has been technically correct at every turn.

Many wanted a murder conviction. That would have been appealed with a very high probability of being overturned in the higher courts. No Judge wants that. Especially in a high-profile case. Instead she has carefully removed every debatable issue from consideration. Down to the stomach contents. This leaves the only cold issue being: what is the sentence for firing four dumdums through a loo door without warning. Even if you did think it was a burglar?

Barry Roux will obviously appeal the final sentence. If Oscar can still pay him that is.. But he must be thinking ‘ what are the grounds of appeal? There isn’t a bullet left in the chamber.’

There will obviously be a huge performance in mitigation of sentence. But Judge Masipa has been clever in couching her verdict already finding Oscar guilty on all aspects that make up a culpable homicide charge. What more can be said?

Judge Masipa will not hand down a 15 year maximum culpable homicide sentence. She is far too clever for that.  It would inevitably lead to grounds for appeal. So she will take account of all Oscars achievement’s, fears, disabilities and hangups. She will allow some credit for these.

But I still don’t think that Judge Masipa is going to let Oscar walk free with a fine or community service. Free to cash in on the book or hit the circuit as an evangelist. To do so would establish a precedent that anyone could abuse if they can afford the legal fees. South Africans would not be safe in their own houses.

I don’t think Oscar or Barry Roux are comfortable at present.  Judge Masipa has got it dead right . She is systematically closing down all debate, leaving an appeal of the ultimate sentence a futile exercise.

And Gerrie Nel has got it spot on to bring the murder charge so as to escalate this horrible matter to the very top-end of culpable homicide.

This article also appears on www.biznews.com


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