Pistorius Trial – BBC Question Time
© Agnes Sam 2014
The panel on BBC Question Time gave a brief comment on the televising of the Pistorius Trial (10/04/2014). Each panellist expressed the view that televising the trial was a ‘hindrance’. A member of the audience said it was ‘disgusting’ or he or she was ‘disgusted‘ by the process.
I am satisfied that the decision to televise the trial was the correct one. I sincerely hope the legal teams will not be affected by the negative comments that have to be placed in context..
I watch the Pistorius Trial because of my connection with Port Elizabeth..
I will not consider the individual panellists, their knowledge of South Africa, and the criteria they may have used to evaluate the trial. They had very little time to discuss the trial.
I have some knowledge of both South Africa and the United Kingdom.
The most significant reason I have for seeing the trial televised is at the end of this post.
1. Firstly, there is a female judge ( An excellent step for South Africa).
2. That judge is an African woman. (Wonderful to have this judge being a role model and confidence builder for young women in Africa).
3. This judge does not know Afrikaans. (While all that is behind South Africans, it is a reminder of the children’s march from Soweto against the imposition of Afrikaans on them during the apartheid years. The judge may be from exile, or may have been educated in South Africa after Soweto. There’s a phrase here – Lest We Forget – We will not forget them.).(Added to this is the recent requirement that people intending to settle in the UK have to learn English. For South Africans this will be a reminder of the Trek – away from the imposition of English when the Trekkers spoke Afrikaans.)
4. Then we have the conduct of the trial. Respect from the Prosecutor, and the Defence (both White Afrikaner men), for the judge, an African woman. (How inspiring is that for the new South Africans?)
5. Two teams of solicitors racially integrated working together to assist the prosecution and the defence. (Can the United Kingdom not learn anything from that?)
6. The witnesses given the option to speak in their preferred language. ( When we watch our television screens for years on end, seeing people from other countries struggling to express themselves in English and not getting their point across? While our reporters and journalists cannot for the most part learn their language to interview them live on our screens?)
7. The conduct of the trial is above reproach. There is nothing “disgusting” about the conduct of the trial. It is not conducted as if it were “a circus“. It is not conducted as if it were “entertainment”. The Pistorius Trial is conducted in a serious, calm, professional manner that South Africans can be proud of. (I will come to the images shown later.)
8. South Africans must place these negative comments in the context of a society here where someone or two people have referred to “Banana Republics” and “Bongo Bongo land“. Had the trial not been televised there would have been negative comments similar to the above no matter what the judgment would have been. Now the world has an opportunity to see what South Africans can do, working together post apartheid.
9. The reproach has been the showing of images that the people do not want to see.
Why should we be protected from those images, and from the horrors of the atrocities that occur throughout the world? We must face up to seeing these images so that we may not just read the text in our newspapers. Perhaps it will hinder the perpetration of such acts. With the absence of God in our lives, and the absence of the death penalty, what recourse do we have to stop the violence against babies, toddlers, children, women, the elderly, gays, anyone for that matter? We do not mind seeing such horrors in movies. and in reality shows. Why not see what people actually do to others in real life?
10. Throughout the trial there has been no reference to the racial elements that people who know South Africa are aware have been avoided. This is a good sign. It demonstrates that the trial is being conducted above the issues of race that the apartheid regime instilled in everyone.
11. FINALLY – this is the most significant reason why I am grateful to South Africa for televising the Pistorius Trial. When an individual in the UK was fighting extradition to South Africa, the plea was that he would not receive a fair trial.
The Pistorius Trial demonstrates to the world that the judicial system in the new South Africa is fair, professional, calm, thoughtful, in depth, intelligent, painstaking, serious, meticulous.
(Agnes Sam is a British author who was born in Port Elizabeth. She lives in York, North Yorkshire.) © Agnes Sam 2014