Oscar Pistorius shooting: Is justice delayed, justice denied?

Oscar Pistorius had it all — money, fame, flashy cars, a string of beautiful women, an inspiring success story that was an inspiration to millions around the world. The South African Olympic and Paralympic athlete became the first double-amputee runner to compete on the track at the Olympics at last year`s London Games and is famously called the ‘Blade Runner’.

Living a life enviable to many, pictures of Pistorius along with his 29-year-old model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp regularly splashed across various tabloids who relished in providing every possible detail to curious readers about the high-life led by him. Steenkamp, who started dating Pistorius in November last year, was a law graduate and due to star in a television show.

But the fairytale came crashing down when Reeva Steenkamp was found shot dead in their Pretoria residence on Valentine`s Day. On the ill-fated day, Reeva was fatally shot four times in the house shared by her and the Olympic sprinter. Then came the admission from Pistorius that he had accidentally shot his girlfriend who was in the bathroom after he mistook her for a burglar, and that the shooting was a tragic mistake. Investigations took place and the court charged him with premeditated murder.

What followed was a courtroom drama with the prosecution calling him a flight risk and opposing his bail. They claimed that Pistorius had intentionally shot his girlfriend and therefore he should not get a bail. As the proceedings went on, Pistorius was seen sitting in the courtroom sobbing.

The court ultimately granted him bail of 1m Rand on Friday after ruling him out as a flight risk. No sooner had the judge granted the bail, that some people from the audience were seen cheering the decision.

Though in no way the granting of bail indicates that Pistorius is not guilty, with a high-profile case like that of Pistorius’, the message could have definitely gone out loud and clear that violence against women in any form would not be tolerated.

During the trial, witnesses have claimed that they heard arguments and noises coming from the house shortly before the shooting incident. Whether intentional or accidental, it is a fact that the life of a young woman was snatched away. Until the trial reaches its logical conclusion, we will never know what really transpired between Pistorius and his slain girlfriend on the fateful night and whether shooting Steenkamp was intentional or a mere accident.

Pistorius had earlier publicly claimed that he slept with a cricket bat, a baseball bat, a revolver and a machine gun after he began receiving threats. In South Africa, incidents of violence are not uncommon. In such situations, how much of a threat can a gun turn out to be for loved ones? The death of Steenkamp has clearly raised questions on the rising gun culture in South Africa.

As the trial continues, the case reminds one of the sensational murders that rocked the nation in 2010. Anni Dewani, a Swedish-born ethnic Lohana Hindu woman, was abducted and murdered while on her honeymoon. The car in which she was travelling with her husband was hijacked and her body was later found in the back seat.

The South African police later claimed that it was her husband Shrien Dewani who had hired contract killers to kill his wife, a charge he vehemently denied. Despite repeated appeals for his extradition to South Africa even after so many years, British national Shrien Dewani continues to avoid extradition.

While the shooter Oscar Pistorius is already out on bail, extradition of Anni Dewani’s husband is yet to happen. It is high time that a decisive stand on such crimes be taken so that incidents of violence against women are curbed. A firm stand needs to be taken by the authorities to prosecute the accused and give a fair trial to the victim.

Both the victims had plans for their lives. While Reeva Steenkamp had a budding television career ahead of her, Anni Dewani had completed her engineering and was working with Ericsson. They had their whole lives ahead of them with promising relationships at the time when they fell down to their deaths.

Till the time a swifter stand by the court is taken to hold the guilty accountable and a decision is given in the case, family and friends of Reeva Steenkamp and Anni Dewani will never be able to understand as to why their lives were so brutally snatched away. Struggling to come to terms with the fact that their “little girl” is no more, the parents are still looking for answers.

While bail has already been granted to Oscar Pistorius, one can only hope that the case does not drag on for years. The sooner the guilty is held accountable, the closer the victims are to getting justice and the victims’ family to a closure. Until then, the beautiful smiling face of Reeva and Anni, peeping out of newspapers, will continue to haunt us asking for justice.