Brenda Wardle’s views on Oscar Pistorius Trial

The Oscar Pistorius murder trial began on March 3, 2014 in South Africa. In the trial “The State vs. Oscar Pistorius”, Oscar is accused of murdering his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the morning of 14 February 2013. His charge sheet also included several gun related charges. A hearing held between 11 and 12 September, 2014 by Judge Thokozile Masipa found Pistorius not guilty of murder, but guilty of the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp and reckless firearm endangerment. Pistorius admitted to killing Reeva, after mistaking her for an intruder. On 15 February, 2013 Pistorius was charged by a Pretoria court for murder.

On 21 October 2014, Pistorius received a prison sentence of 5-years for culpable homicide and 3-years suspended prison sentence for endangerment. In a ground breaking ruling of the case, Judge President Dunstan Mlambo ruled on 25 February 2014 that the opening and closing arguments of the trial could be broadcast live to television audiences in South Africa and the world. Oscar Pistorius is a popular athlete in South Africa, his reputation stems from his appearance at the highest level of sporting competition including several Paralympics Games and the 2012 Olympics, in spite of his disability.

Brenda Wardle, a prominent South African legal analyst and the Chief Operating Officer at Wardle College of Law has been following the Oscar Pistorius trial closely. In September 2014, Wardle gave her insights on the case in a 29 minute YouTube video. In the clip, Wardle affirms the Oscar Pistorius trial is closely linked to Solomon Ngubane’s trial, since it involves conviction on grounds of culpable homicide. She also observes that Oscar Pistorius trial has witness more than its fair share of theatrics as evident in the denials and proclamations. One of the proclamations was a declaration by the lead prosecution attorney; Gerrie Nel that Oscar Pistorius was guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

Brenda Wardle points that the South African judicial system is adversarial in nature even through a case must be proven beyond any reasonable doubt. In Oscar’s case, Wardle asserts that Judge Masipa will be guided by the weight of the evidence and the credibility of all the witnesses. She concludes that the case is largely dependent on circumstantial evidence because only Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp know the truth of what happened. Wardle holds a bachelors and a master’s degree in law with concentrations in forensic medicine, medical law, fundamental rights and constitutional law.

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