Oscar in Wonderland

Lucien Greaves of Lydenburg writes:

Former Olypmpiad and folk hero, Oscar Pistorius, has followed in the footsteps of the literal Alice when she took an extended tour into Wonderland. He fell down the proverbial rabbit hole on that fateful night just over a year ago when he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

And now the whole country – and those abroad who share an interest – are treated to an endless supply of Hollywood.-style drama. DSTv subscribers get it all, with news channels dedicating hours of valuable air time to coverage of the trial, and Carte Blanche even launching a special channel just to focus on Oscar’s fate.

An expert crime scene investigation team from the USA and several prominent TV-script writers have now also become involved in a project in which Oscar’s rise and fall will be broadcast in a neatly produced package that might be completely devoid of any real facts – because why let facts get in the way of a good story?.

Some law experts and media presenters say the live broadcasts will help citizens get a look into an “open justice” system. But all the normal people will get to see is a stage prepared for national and international onlookers, with loads of behind-the-scenes organising going on to make sure that officials don’t end up with egg on their faces.

What the normal people won’t be seeing is the every day occurrences that take place in our local courts. Many days go by when prosecutors and defence attorneys are left without much to do because magistrates are either not available or were not even booked. People having to appear in court are left to rearrange more days to take leave from work to go through the same arduous process time and again. The state of the court buildings and other infrastructure is worn and in some cases extremely dilapidated.

Local newspapers also regularly report on the bad handling of cases involving minors and sexual assault, and I wonder that should all those cases have been broadcast live, whether it might not have focused on the serious shortcoming in our justice system when it comes to children.

So while many will while away the time devouring every titbit of Oscar-trial development, thousands more will experience the sordid reality of off-camera South African courts where things seldom go according to script.

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