Another first for the fastest man with no legs

It has been dubbed the trial of the century, and rightly so. The Oscar Pistorius trial has captivated South Africa and the world at large.

Ellie-May Challis and Oscar Pistorius in happier times.
Ellie-May Challis and Oscar Pistorius in happier times.

This amazing story is a first for South Africa on many levels. Known as the fastest man with no legs, Pistorius became the first amputee to win an world track medal at the 2011 World Championships. He also became the first double amputee to participate in the Olympics, winning medals and breaking world records.

Such is, and remains the inspirational story of South Africa’s golden boy. But that image has come under intense scrutiny as he stands accused of shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14 2013.

His murder trial begun on 3 March 2014. It becomes the first in South Africa to be televised and broadcast live. Millions have been glued to their television sets to watch the trial unfold – live and up close. The pop-up dedicated channel features round-the-clock legal proceedings, news, analysis and profiles of the trial.

The major effect of this move, as explained by the judge, is that the broadcast will allow the general public to have first-hand insight into the proceedings – as the justice system is thought to be favouring the rich and condemning the poor.

Judge Dunstan Mlambo said the perception was that the law always works in favour of the wealthy. “Enabling the larger South African society to follow the criminal proceedings in this way will go a long way in dispelling the negative and unfounded perceptions about the justice system,” he said.

The South Africa justice system is an open one that allows members of the public to access courts. With the huge public interest that the Pistorius case has garnered, broadcasting it would ensure the trial is accessible to even those who don’t have the time to sit in the public gallery and watch.

For the media, this breaks new ground. It changes the game plan in an unprecedented way. The risk of televising the event is that it might reduce such a serious crime to mere entrainment.

Some would argue that the media is not televising this trial out of the goodness of their hearts or the desire to inform people – but fiercely driven by profits.

Katy Katopodis, Editor-in-Chief of Eyewitness News argues otherwise.

“The first fact is that the world has evolved so dramatically in the past few years and the introduction of social media, live blogs and instant messaging has essentially changed the face of news and how we do our jobs. Live tweeting is a reality of covering court cases, with reporters sending out tweets faster than the lawyers can argue their cases. A live transmission of the proceedings is merely an extension of that,” she said.

In good times and in bad, mesmerizing Pistorius story will continue to break new ground. It will be told for generations, capturing and breaking the hearts of many.

Post published in: Africa News
  1. J.Larose

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