Oscar Pistorius will face pre-meditated murder charge after a court heard on Tuesday that he killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp while she was "unarmed, innocent and sitting in a toilet." Oscar Pistorius, center with head covered, leaves the Brooklyn Police Station.
Pistorius is likely to remain incarcerated until he faces trial, after prosecutor Gerrie Nel laid out the case against him regarding the tragic events of Steenkamp's Valentine's Day death and chief magistrate Desmond Nair agreed he should face a schedule 6 murder charge, which requires that the killing was pre-meditated.
Pistorius will now have to prove "exceptional circumstances" if he is to have any chance of being bailed. Just as in his preliminary hearing on Friday, Pistorius, the first double amputee to compete in the Olmypics and Paralympics, regularly broke down into tears as defense attorney Barry Roux and Nel debated over the issue of pre-meditation. The prosecution asserted an element of cold-blooded intent, putting forward that Pistorius had gotten up from his bed, put on his prosthetic limbs and fired four shots through a locked bathroom door, three of which struck and killed the deceased. Roux, however, insisted the matter was "not even murder," sticking resolutely to the theory that Pistorius had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder. "All we know is that she locked the bathroom door and he shot, thinking she was a burglar," Roux told the court.
Meanwhile, 700 miles away in Port Elizabeth, Steenkamp was laid to rest in a small cremation ceremony involving members of her family and close friends, including South African international rugby star Francois Hougaard, who reportedly texted Steenkamp just before her death. While the Steenkamp's family insisted they were trying to avoid all coverage of the Pistorius hearing, her friend, former professional jockey Gavin Venter, spoke out angrily.
"[Pistorius] is a danger to the public, he will be a danger to witnesses, he must stay in jail," Venter told 567 Cape Talk radio. As the bail hearing got underway, a moment of pandemonium erupted in the halls outside the courtroom, as officials insisted only 26 journalists be allowed inside as more than 100 clamored to be among the chosen few. This mention is worthy because the South African media has already been a huge part of this sad tale, and make no mistake, will continue to be so.
The nature of the South African judicial system, which abolished jury trials in 1969 at a time when that nation's tortured racial history was approaching breaking point, means that a single judge, perhaps accompanied by one or more technical experts, will decide upon Pistorius' case. That means that the typical media reporting restrictions that would be in place for a jury trial in the United States or most other legal jurisdictions based on the English common law system do not apply. In America, the kind of details that were reported over the past few days would not have been permitted under contempt of court regulations, for fear that its publication could influence the minds of potential jurors.