Sunday 18 February 2018

Pistorius will get a fair trial but the jury is still out on the South African justice system

Oscar Pistorius endured a tough cross-examination
Oscar Pistorius endured a tough cross-examination

Mona Forde

BE your opinions of Gerrie Nel what they may, there are few among us who can now doubt the South African state prosecutor's ability to cross-examine. Over the space of five days, Oscar Pistorius was subjected to Nel's brittle and often brutal style of questioning as he attempted to discredit the famous sprinter's account of what happened the night he took Reeva Steenkamp's life.

And it worked, remarkably well. In the first few days of cross-examination towards the end of last week, Nel extracted as much information from Pistorius as he possibly could and then, in the first two days of this week, he proceeded to test the improbability of that information with such methodical precision that, in the minds of many, he rendered the accused's version so unbelievable that it could not possibly have happened.

(As is well documented, Pistorius insists he shot in self-defence at what he thought was an intruder that fateful night, while Nel, on behalf of the state, is arguing the couple had an argument and that she then fled from him in fear and he knowingly shot at her through that toilet door.)

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