The Journey from Apartheid to Pistorious

Social media is alive with news of the sentence in the trial of Oscar Pistorious in a South African court.

There is another story here which we are overlooking. Let us not forget that black South Africans first voted in 1994 in post-apartheid South Africa. That is a mere twenty years ago. Nelson Mandela spent twenty-seven years in prison, battling for freedom.

Tonight we witnessed  a black South African woman sentence a white South African man to jail. Despite what any of us may or may not feel about the actual sentence, there is no denying this was a momentous occasion.

Judge Masipa would have been a teenager or young child when apartheid ended. Her people were not even entitled to vote. Today she sat in judgement of a fellow citizen.

There is no question this was a high profile case that attracted international news coverage. We could watch the sentencing live.

While I personally think the sentence should have been longer I take into consideration the prosecution failed to disprove Pistorious did not shoot at a perceived intruder. I do not know the sentencing standards in South Africa, but I did listen to the Judge’s reasoning comparing similar cases and her rationale. So while in my country I would have expected a longer sentence, I take into account my ignorance about the South African legal system. Many experts had been predicting no jail time, so I think any jail time is better than none. I recall OJ Simpson was acquitted.

Let us not let our debate about the length of the sentence overshadow the advances black South Africans have made in a mere twenty years. Many of us in the Western world have little comprehension of the history.

2 comments on “The Journey from Apartheid to Pistorious

  1. Thank you, Robyn! It is indeed a momentous occasion for South Africa and it was also my feeling that the law in South Africa might well be different.

    I tend not to second guess sentences since none of us know all the details of the case. The clamour has started over the length of the sentence but you point out the important aspect of the case that no one else has mentioned.

    A judge who was as thorough as this judge would have taken great care to hand down a sentence that matched her accounting of the case. I will trust her judgement to be correct.


    • Thank you for recognising the historical significance.

      The loss of Reeva’s life is so very tragic, I’m not sure what sentence would have been accepted globally, but the difference in legal systems makes it hard for us to compare with our own local systems or expectations.


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