Oscar Pistorius parole: Law biased towards whites and males says writer

JUNE 11, 2015

Australian writer, Ruby Hamad, in a post published on dailylife.com.au, believes, in light of Oscar Pistorius’ expected parole in August, the South African justice system is serving the purpose it was intended for – to serve the 'white' elite and males.

Hamad says the Pistorius' release shows that to the South African justice system, a woman’s life is worth exactly 10 months - referring to the 10 moths Pistorius will have served by the date of his parole release.

“The news comes amidst an epidemic of violence against women. Like Australia, and virtually every other country in the world, women are dying at the hands of their partners and other family members at increasingly alarming rates,” she says.

“A woman in South Africa is killed by her intimate partner every eight hours, making it the country with one of the highest rates of violence against women.

“There is no doubt that, however 'well behaved' Pistorius has been in prison, releasing him after less than a year sends a message that implicitly accepts this violence.”

Hamad says the justice system has been lenient with Pistorius.

“In other words, Pistorius will in all likelihood walk free from prison less than a year after shooting a woman dead because he felt threatened by an intruder that existed only in his own mind.

“A little context. Violence – and fear of violence – in South Africa is sky-high, much of it driven by racial tensions. The transition from apartheid to democracy has not been seamless and a segregation of sorts remains, with most of the wealthy white population living as Pistorius did, in gated, heavily guarded communities with round-the-clock surveillance cutting them off from the black population,” she writes.

“Who was Pistorius so afraid of? He never specified. But, in an atmosphere of such intense paranoia, where even popular musicians claim whites are being ‘killed like flies’ despite a distinct lack of evidence, it's naïve at best, and disingenuous at worst, to pretend South Africa's race problem had nothing to do with it.”

She quotes Raymond Sutner, a professor at Rhodes University, as having said that "black" has always been "and continues to be a code word for criminality in South Africa".

“It is this myth of black criminality and 'black on white crime' that has created a fear so intense white people barricade themselves in terror in their luxurious compounds to avoid their compatriots. The fear is so strong it overrides the facts: in South Africa, whites are actually less likely to be murdered than any other race,” Hamad.

“Pistorius was acquitted of murder because he claimed to be scared of an intruder that didn't exist. If he is indeed released come August, then what South Africa's legal system would be reinforcing is the notion that an abstract fear of violent crime, one that is informed by paranoia rather than facts, is a reasonable justification for taking a human life.

“Is the system broken or is it serving exactly who it's designed [for]?”