On the eve of one of the greatest legal sagas that we will probably ever witness, I feel the need to express my concerns. No doubt, some of them will be dispelled in due course though I think it is important nonetheless.
The outcome of the trial will determine the type of life that Oscar will have to lead and it can only be one of two things: freedom in the form of an acquittal which is unlikely I believe, given the effort, exposure and lengths the state is going to, to ensure he is punished, or a life spent behind bars for a long time.
These are the givens.
Though I have struggled with the concept of having this trial broadcast all over the world, believing that Oscar’s right to have a free and fair trial must surely be infringed upon by the gross intrusion of the media, I do understand why it is unfolding as it is. The world wants to see whether the justice system works properly in the this country and we, as South Africans (or specifically the Government) wants to show the world that this can be done.
And everyone is talking of the competencies of the prosecutor and the defence: how tenacious and thorough they both are and how successful their past experiences have been.
But what of the Judge I ask? It is she that will weigh up the evidence and decide upon Oscar’s fate and somehow the significance of all this has been downplayed. The first I read about her was yesterday in the Sunday Times who seemed to merely comment on her status as a former crime reporter rather than her experience as a Judge.
All eyes on us South Africa. Let us pray that we can show them that the criminal justice system can work in this country.