News Africa

Saturday 23 August 2014

'It's not just Oscar Pistorius on trial. In a way, all of South Africa is'

Independent.ie travels to the Rainbow Nation to examine the effects the Oscar Pistorius trial has had on the country

Jason Kennedy

Published 04/05/2014 | 11:40

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There doesn't seem to be anything special or unusual about the Silver Woods complex located just outside Pretoria, South Africa's capital city.

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It's typical of any other secured housing facility in the country. There are security men checking every car that tries to drive in. Five lines of electrical wire lines surround the facility, ensuring no one can climb over, but just in case they do, numerous signs inform that the area is protected by an armed response team.

This may seems excessive by an Irish standard, but in the rainbow nation of South Africa this is the norm. The culture of extreme protection is visible all around the country's main cities.

Looking at the complex entrance, it would be hard to believe that a shooting scrutinised around the world took place here last year. Behind these walls that boasts luxury and decadence, the young model, paralegal and charity worked Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead by paralympian Oscar Pistorius.

The house now lies empty. Pistorius, who claimed to believe Steenkamp was an intruder before shooting her four times, has not returned to his home since the incident took place and has no intention of ever going back. In fact, he is selling this house, which is his biggest asset, in order to fund the spiralling court costs.

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The trial of Oscar Pistorius is approaching the end of its second adjournment and is set to resume tomorrow. Last week, I travelled to Pretoria to discover more about the Pistorius trial, South Africa's gun culture and the safety of the nation's women.

One thing that I discovered on my first day meeting people, there's a feeling that it's not just Oscar Pistorius on trial. In a way, all of South Africa is. Their society is under the global microscope and is not fairing too well.

Over the next five days, Independent.ie will publish a video and article each morning revolving around the trial the world is talking about. Tomorrow, I discover more about the South African judicial system, the case's importance and the culture of support for Pistorius in his home town of Pretoria.

Irish Independent

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