The Circus Comes to South Africa

Oscar Pistorius might be well on the way to knocking O.J. Simpson’s trial off the pinnacle as the weirdest criminal trial of all time. I’ll bet by the time it’s over it’ll have both set a new standard for absurd rationalizations for behaviour and given criminal lawyers multiple black eyes for earnestly arguing the patently ridiculous. It might even vie for title of most perverse outcome.

It started today at Pistorius’ bail hearing; one of his ‘dream team’ mused before the court that, not only was this clearly not a case of premeditation, that it couldn’t even be murder. It was just the opening salvo in a media campaign that is being launched by the Pistorius family with the help of a famous crisis communication specialist (i.e. spin doctor).

The first step appears to get Oscar fitted out for a ‘victim’ mantle. Today’s hearing had him feeling “vulnerable” because, while armed – from previous revelations, to the teeth – he didn’t have his prosthetics on.

Hard to say what South African law says these days about ‘reasonable apprehension’ of harm as the basis for, by any measure, extreme force being applied. It will also be interesting how the law of mistake will be spun in this case. I mean, it should theoretically be a bit of an uphill battle to contend you honestly believed a robber had broken in and barricaded himself in your bathroom. But, perhaps, South Africa is suffering through a rash of bathroom B&E’s.

There’ll still be some interesting ‘splainin’ to do if the cricket bat has Ms. Steenkamp’s blood on it, particularly if, as reported, she had a substantial blunt force head injury. That’s where the creative storytelling skills of Mr. Pistorius and his team will be really be tested. Judging by what we’ve heard so far from Team Pastorius, though, I’d venture they’re up to the test of taking us down that rabbit hole pronto. I find myself wondering, though, whether alien life forms will constitute any part of the narrative?


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