Trump Claims ‘Large Scale Killing’ of South Africa Farmers, Without Evidence

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa promised that land expropriation would not threaten economic stability or agricultural output, although his government has yet to give details of the process.

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — President Trump waded into South Africa’s proposal to seize land from white farmers, saying in a post on Twitter late Wednesday that he had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “closely study” the “the large scale killing of farmers” — a claim disputed by official figures and the country’s biggest farmer’s group.

Mr. Trump’s comment that the “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers” came after the Fox News host Tucker Carlson presented a late-night program on South Africa, including land seizures and homicides, and described President Cyril Ramaphosa as “a racist.”

The tweet gives prominence to a false narrative pushed by some right-wing groups in South Africa that there have been numerous seizures of white-owned land and widespread killings of white farmers. Some of those groups have brought their claims to the United States on lobbying trips.

On Thursday, the South African minister of international relations, Lindiwe Sisulu, described the tweet as “regrettable” and “based on false information.” The government said it would seek clarification from the United States Embassy, and Ms. Sisulu planned to “communicate with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on the matter through diplomatic channels.”

The government has said expropriating farms is necessary to deal with longstanding inequities and that only unused land would be subject to seizure, suggesting that land that is being actively farmed would be safe.

In a country still struggling with the effects of apartheid and widespread economic inequality decades after Nelson Mandela became the country’s first black president, Mr. Trump’s tweet was likely to inflame the divisive landownership debate.

Here’s an explanation of the issues.

Are there widespread killings of farmers?

The number of killings of farmers is at a 20-year low, 47 in 2017-18, according to research published in July by AgriSA, a farmers’ organization in South Africa. That is down from 66 the year before. The figures were consistent with a steady decline of violence since a peak in 1998, when 153 were killed.

South Africa recorded 19,016 murder cases from April 2016 to March 2017, according to the South Africa Police Service. The national murder rate last year was 34.1 per 100,000 people, but the number of people living on farms is not fully known, which makes comparisons difficult.

Most official statistics do not break down homicides by race, and they include farmers as well as employees who live on the land.

“There is no official crime category called ‘farm attack’ or ‘farm murder,’ ” according to Africa Check, a local fact-checking organization.

Some white South Africans say they believe that farm killings are underreported, politically motivated and part of a conspiracy to rid the country of white residents. AfriForum, a right-wing minority rights group, has lobbied internationally — including in Washington — to draw attention to farm homicides and what it calls the “racist theft” of land.

“Nobody is disputing that people living and working on farms and small holdings are the victims of violent and often brutal attacks and murders,” said Kate Wilkinson, a senior researcher at Africa Check. “What is disputed is whether they face an elevated risk versus average South Africans.”

Does the South African government want to seize land?


Mr. Ramaphosa announced on Aug. 1 that the governing African National Congress (A.N.C.) would move ahead with a proposal to change the country’s Constitution and allow the expropriation of some land without compensation.

Land reform is a highly divisive issue in South Africa, where white residents, who make up 9 percent of the population, own 35 percent of the land, according to official figures, a legacy of colonial and apartheid-era dispossession.

A government land audit last year reported that black South Africans directly owned less than 9 percent of the country’s land, despite making up 79 percent of the population.

What is its argument for doing so?

Mr. Ramaphosa has said that speeding up what he described as land reform will bolster economic growth and agricultural production.

More fundamentally, the government has argued, returning land to black South Africans would make the country — which has one of the largest income gaps in the world — more just. Resolving to support land redistribution without compensation was “a call to action to decisively break with the historical injustice of colonial, apartheid and patriarchal patterns of land ownership, and to build a South Africa that belongs to all,” the A.N.C. said in a statement in May.

In an op-ed article published by The Financial Times on Thursday, Mr. Ramaphosa wrote: “As the World Bank has observed, ‘South Africa’s historical, highly skewed distribution of land and productive assets is a source of inequality and social fragility.’ ”

He also said in January, “We can make this country the Garden of Eden.”

Within the A.N.C., a faction aligned with former President Jacob Zuma has strongly pushed for land seizures. Mr. Ramaphosa, a former businessman regarded as more moderate, has promised that land expropriation will not threaten economic stability or agricultural output, although the government has not specified how the process will work.

A series of hearings on the subject has been held in the provinces in the past couple of months, as Parliament weighs changing the law. The issue is expected to loom large in national elections next year.

Has the government changed the Constitution?

Not yet.

During Wednesday’s broadcast, Mr. Carlson said Mr. Ramaphosa had started “seizing land from his own citizens without compensation because they are the wrong skin color.” But that is not true. Mr. Ramaphosa’s proposal requires a parliamentary motion and has not yet become law although some version is expected to pass.

South Africa’s Constitution already allows for land expropriation below market value, “perhaps even at zero value,” noted Andries du Toit, the director of the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape.

“Why has the state not already used these provisions? The answer in part seems to be that expropriation is very difficult — you are heading for a process where the final decision will be made by a court, not the government,” Mr. du Toit said.

A campaign by right-wing groups bears fruit

Some right-wing groups in South Africa, like AfriForum, have pushed the false narrative that there have already been numerous seizures of white-owned land.

The groups have drawn support from conservative American commentators such as Alex Jones, Ann Coulter and Mike Cernovich, who in 2016 tweeted that “white genocide” was “real” in South Africa.

Leaders of AfriForum visited Washington in May and met with Senator Ted Cruz and members of the Cato Institute. A representative of AfriForum also appeared on Mr. Carlson’s show in May, generating much chatter among the group’s supporters on social media.

Mr. Carlson, who has often used inflammatory language on issues of race on his show, has become one of Mr. Trump’s favorite Fox News hosts. Mr. Trump himself has made many racially explosive remarks, and political analysts say they expect him to continue using that language to firm up support among his conservative voter base, which includes vocal white nationalists and white supremacists.

Mr. Trump apparently singled out Mr. Pompeo in the tweet because Mr. Carlson had read aloud what Mr. Carlson called an “unbelievable statement” from what he called “Mike Pompeo’s State Department.” The statement was a long and nuanced explanation of the department’s perspective on land ownership in South Africa, and it said that the country had a “strong democracy” and was engaged in an “open process” over the land tensions.

After reading it, Mr. Carlson mocked the statement.

Another rightwing group from South Africa, the Suidlanders, toured the United States last year, meeting with David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, among others.

Mr. Trump’s own relations with African countries have been fraught. He drew condemnation in January for using a vulgar term to describe Haiti and some African countries. Mr. Trump later met President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, the first leader from sub-Saharan Africa to visit him at the White House. And Rex W. Tillerson, then secretary of state, sought to mend fences during a five-nation of Africa, promising $533 million in new aid.

In reaction to Mr. Trump’s tweet this week, Patrick Gaspard, a former American ambassador to South Africa, said on Twitter: “The President of the US needs political distractions to turn our gaze away from his criminal cabal, and so he’s attacking South Africa with the disproven racial myth of ‘large scale killings of farmers.’ This man has never visited the continent and has no discernible Africa policy.”

South Africa’s president survives vote to oust him

President Jacob Zuma... Many ANC members have blamed Zuma's corruption scandals for the party's poor performance in local elections in August in which it lost the key municipalities of Johannesburg and Pretoria to the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance.
President Jacob Zuma… Many ANC members have blamed Zuma’s corruption scandals for the party’s poor performance in local elections in August in which it lost the key municipalities of Johannesburg and Pretoria to the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance.

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — President Jacob Zuma escaped a move to oust him as the leader of South Africa by senior members of his ruling party, it was announced Tuesday.

A motion to dismiss Zuma, 74, over a string of corruption allegations since he came to office in 2009 was introduced at a meeting of the National Executive Committee, or NEC, of the African National Congress in Pretoria on Saturday.

The majority of the ANC’s 80 executive committee members voted to keep Zuma in office, the party’s secretary general Gwede Mantashe told journalists in Johannesburg on Tuesday afternoon.

“Following honest, robust, candid and at times difficult discussion, the NEC did not support the call for the president to step down,” said Mantashe.

“All members of the NEC had the opportunity to raise in the meeting the issues they feel are hurting the movement and the country,” he said.

Fresh from his victory, Zuma left Tuesday for Cuba to attend the funeral of Fidel Castro.

Many ANC members have blamed Zuma’s corruption scandals for the party’s poor performance in local elections in August in which it lost the key municipalities of Johannesburg and Pretoria to the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance. It was the worst performance for the ANC, once led by Nelson Mandela, since it won power at the end of apartheid in 1994.

Three weeks ago Zuma survived a no-confidence motion in Parliament that was raised by the Democratic Alliance after the state corruption watchdog issued a report which alleged that he may have abused his position to win state contracts for his friends, the wealthy Gupta family.

Zuma also faces the reinstatement of 783 corruption charges for an arms deal more than a decade ago. His term as the ANC’s leader expires in December 2017.

Mayor Turner Leads a Trade Delegation to South Africa

Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa and is one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world. The economic powerhouse of Johannesburg generates 17 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, mostly through manufacturing, retail and service industry sectors.
Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa and is one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world. The economic powerhouse of Johannesburg generates 17 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, mostly through manufacturing, retail and service industry sectors.

Mayor Sylvester Turner and a 24-member delegation leave on Friday, October 28 on an investment and trade mission to South Africa to promote Houston as a business gateway and tourist destination. The Honorary Consul General to South Africa and Texas State Representative Helen Giddings, Texas State Representative Borris Miles, City Council Vice Mayor Pro Tem Jerry Davis, City Council Member Amanda Edwards, President of the Texas Medical Center Dr. Bobby Robbins, Greater Houston Partnership Senior Vice President Robert Pertierra and Visit Houston Senior Vice President Jorge Franz along with representatives from the Houston Port Authority, Houston Airport System and several members of Houston-based companies will accompany Mayor Turner.

The trade delegation will visit with the First Lady of South Africa Gloria Bongi Ngema-Zuma and the Mayors of Tshwane, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Meetings will primarily focus on energy, aerospace and healthcare opportunities. In Cape Town, Mayor Turner will also give remarks at the Annual General Meeting of the World Energy Cities Partnership (WECP).

“This trade mission is an opportunity to connect with South African companies and create sustainable relationships for business and tourism,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner.  “Houston is positioned to be a long-term partner for energy, manufacturing and healthcare.  If you want to do business on the African continent, South Africa is a great jumping off point.”

The trade delegation will visit with the First Lady of South Africa Gloria Bongi Ngema-Zuma and the Mayors of Tshwane, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Meetings will primarily focus on energy, aerospace and healthcare opportunities. In Cape Town, Mayor Turner will also give remarks at the Annual General Meeting of the World Energy Cities Partnership (WECP).
The trade delegation will visit with the First Lady of South Africa Gloria Bongi Ngema-Zuma (pictured), and the Mayors of Tshwane, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

In 2015, trade between Houston and South Africa was approximately $1 billion, making Houston the third busiest gateway for U.S. – South Africa trade by value.  Exports to South Africa include motor vehicles and parts, industrial machinery, chemical products, electrical machinery, oil and refined products, plastic products, optic and photographic instruments and precious metals. Imports include organic chemicals, mineral fuels, iron and steel, aluminum products, motor vehicles and parts and edible fruit and nuts.

Houston firms with major operations in South Africa include, but are not limited to American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), Baker Hughes, Inc., Dresser-Rand Company, KRB, Inc. and Schlumberger Limited.

Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa and is one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world. The economic powerhouse of Johannesburg generates 17 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, mostly through manufacturing, retail and service industry sectors. Top global companies such as McDonald’s, Nokia, Toyota and Coca-Cola have their South African headquarters in the city which is located in the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills and is the center of large-scale gold and diamond trade. Pretoria is a city characterized by service and hi-tech industries, and research and educational institutions. Cape Town is the second largest city in the country and is located at the southern tip of Africa.


South Africa regains Africa’s ‘biggest economy’ title from Nigeria


South Africa has regained the title of Africa’s largest economy, two years after Nigeria rebased its economy to claim the spot, according to IMF data. A recalculation using current exchange rates put South Africa on top because the rand has strengthened against the dollar. Nigeria’s currency has fallen sharply since a peg to the dollar was dropped. But BBC Africa Business Report editor Matthew Davies says both economies could be on the brink of recession.

Nigeria rebased its economy in 2014 to include previously uncounted industries like telecoms, information technology, music, online sales, airlines, and film production. Most countries do rebasing, updating the measure of the size of the economy, at least every three years or so, but Nigeria had not updated the components in its GDP base year since 1990.

On the basis of these numbers, there’s not a lot between the two. South Africa’s economy is worth around $301bn (£232bn) and Nigeria comes in at $296bn. The exercise in calculating the numbers using last year’s IMF figures and this year’s currency exchange numbers, technically puts South Africa back on top. But look behind the league table and the light-hearted jostling about who has the largest economy in Africa and things, economically speaking, are a little bleaker.

Both economies contracted in the first quarter. Another contraction and they’ll both be in recession.

Nigeria is almost entirely dependent on its oil exports. And as the price of oil slumps so does the flow of petrodollars coming into the country’s coffers. South Africa’s economy is more diverse.

Indeed, after Nigeria knocked it off the top spot two years ago, we started describing it as “Africa’s most industrialised economy”, rather than Africa second-largest economy.

But economic growth is unlikely to make it above 1% in South Africa this year and many, including the country’s Reserve Bank, are forecasting it at zero. Unemployment remains stubbornly high and a credit rating review is looming at the end of the year. If the whole “largest economy in Africa” competition was a horse race, the two leading contenders would be virtually neck and neck.

But they wouldn’t be galloping, they’d be trotting at best. And looking increasingly tired and in need of sustenance.

African National Congress suffers worst-ever election results

South African President Jacob Zuma spoke about the election on Saturday as protesters stood silently with signs referring to his acquittal on rape charges in 2006.
South African President Jacob Zuma spoke about the election on Saturday as protesters stood silently with signs referring to his acquittal on rape charges in 2006.

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s ruling party suffered its worst election setback since taking power at the end of apartheid a generation ago, with the African National Congress losing the capital, Pretoria, and its surrounding Tshwane metropolitan area. But it won a tight race for the country’s biggest city, Johannesburg, election authorities reported Saturday night.

The opposition Democratic Alliance, which named its first black party leader last year, made a strong move out of its stronghold in the city of Cape Town, winning in three of the country’s six largest municipalities. With no party reaching a majority in Johannesburg or Tshwane, the possible formation of coalition governments is the next challenge.

Scandals around President Jacob Zuma came back to haunt him even as he praised a peaceful vote. As he spoke on national television, four women stood up in front of him, silently facing the crowd and holding signs that appeared to refer to his acquittal for rape in 2006. Zuma didn’t appear to respond.

The election losses have threatened two decades of dominance by the ANC, the former antiapartheid movement.

Since South Africa’s first all-race election in 1994, the ANC has had widespread support on the strength of its successful fight against white-minority rule, while bringing basic amenities to many people. But its hold has been weakened by corruption scandals and a stagnant economy that has frustrated the urban middle class, while poor communities demand better services in a country with one of the highest inequality rates in the world.

‘‘Election after election, the ANC has hung on to its past glory and kept its place in the hearts of most South Africans. . . . This time round, though, it’s not enough,’’ the Mail & Guardian newspaper said in an editorial. On social media, South Africans mocked Zuma’s recent claim that the ANC would rule ‘‘until Jesus comes back.’’

In a brief address shortly before final results were announced, Zuma, 74, thanked South Africans for a vote he called largely peaceful, free, and fair.

‘‘Our democracy is maturing,’’ he said. ‘‘Let us get back to work and build our country together.’’

The election was notable for its peaceful power shift away from an entrenched government in Africa, where some leaders have been in office for decades. In neighboring Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe, 92, has kept control since independence in 1980 with disputed elections and crackdowns on dissent.

Before this election, the ANC had never lost a major black-majority municipality. Now it has lost two, including Nelson Mandela Bay, named for the ANC’s star and the country’s first black president.

The Democratic Alliance already runs the country’s second largest city, Cape Town, the only major municipality where blacks are in the minority among white and mixed-race residents. The party, which has roots in the antiapartheid movement, has declared that its brand is good governance.

‘‘For far too long, the ANC has governed South Africa with absolute impunity,’’ the party’s leader, Mmusi Maimane, 36, told reporters earlier Saturday. He said the idea that his party was a white one has been ‘‘completely shattered.’’

The ANC received 53 percent of votes across the country, its lowest percentage ever;the Democratic Alliance got 26 percent.

The results for the ANC could put pressure on Zuma to leave office before his mandate ends in 2019, political analysts said.

The picture that changed South Africa

SOWETO  — It was an image that helped change the world.

By Bill Sternberg
By Bill Sternberg

The iconic photo showed a 12-year-old boy, Hector Pieterson, who’d been shot by South African police during a student protest. His limp body was in the arms of a fellow student; running alongside was Hector’s distraught sister, Antoinette.

The picture — taken 40 years ago Thursday by Sam Nzima, a photographer for The World newspaper, and flashed around the world — brought home the brutality of the racist apartheid system in a way that words alone could not.

Today, the Hector Pieterson Museum stands a few blocks from where the boy was shot in this township southwest of Johannesburg. The girl in the photo, now Antoinette Sithole, works as a guide and speaker at the museum, where I met her during a visit here this spring.

Four decades later, she tells the story of that awful day with heartfelt intensity but without bitterness. The students of Soweto were upset at a new policy requiring them to be taught in Afrikaans — which they considered to be the language of their oppressor, one of little utility outside of South Africa — in addition to English.

Antoinette Sithole in front of the iconic photo of herself reacting to the death of her brother, Hector Pieterson, 40 years ago in Soweto. (Photo: Bill Sternberg)
Antoinette Sithole in front of the iconic photo of herself reacting to the death of her brother, Hector Pieterson, 40 years ago in Soweto.
(Photo: Bill Sternberg)

They decided to protest but didn’t want to alarm their parents. The younger students, such as Hector, weren’t supposed to be part of the demonstration. “But because it was a peaceful march, and we needed the numbers, we just let them join in,” Antoinette recalled. The police arrived. The confrontation grew violent. Hector was killed. Nzima’s photo roused anti-apartheid sentiments around the world.

The Soweto uprising spawned other protests and international economic boycotts that ultimately pressured the white South African government to release Nelson Mandela from prison and paved the way toward one-person, one-vote democracy. (June 16, the date of Hector’s death, is commemorated as National Youth Day.)

The bad news in today’s new South Africa is that President Jacob Zuma of the African National Congress, the party of Mandela, presides over an administration plagued by corruption and cronyism.

The good news is that people of all races care deeply about their young democracy, which features an independent judiciary and a vibrant press that is far freer than the one that photographer Nzima was part of 40 years ago.

After taking the picture of Hector, Nzima hid the film in his sock to prevent it from being confiscated by authorities. He and his editors decided to publish the explosive image, even though they knew it would enrage the government.

That brave act of photojournalism forever altered the trajectory of South Africa, a beautiful country with an ugly past.

Bill Sternberg is the editor of the editorial page.

Cracking the monolith: Why Voters should stop giving the African National Congress a blank cheque

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 29:  Vendors sell ANC flags depicting Nelson Mandela outside the MediClinic Heart hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated on June 29, 2013 in Pretoria. US President Barack Obama met with the former South African leader's family to offer prayers as Mandela continues to be treated for a lung infection.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 172091911

The Economist – A GOVERNMENT without a serious opposition is a dangerous thing, even in a democracy. Unless voters have a genuine alternative, the ruling party has little incentive to govern well. And if one party has all the power, those who wish to abuse public office to enrich themselves will surely join it.

Since democracy came to South Africa with the dismantling of apartheid and the holding of the first all-race elections in 1994, the country has been utterly dominated by one party. South Africans owe a vast debt of gratitude to the African National Congress (ANC) for its long years of struggle against white rule. But that does not give the liberators a right to govern for ever. Like any political party, they should be judged by results. And owing to policy drift, cronyism and corruption, the results are not good.

Unemployment stands at 26.7%, by the government’s own reckoning; add in discouraged workers who no longer bother to register and the number is more like 35%. The economy shrank by an annualised 1.2% in the first quarter of this year, after growing by only 0.4% in the quarter before. South African bonds are rated one notch above junk, and a further downgrade is expected by the end of 2016. In the past year the rand has lost 15% of its value against the dollar.

Politically, the situation looks awful, too. In March the president, Jacob Zuma, was found guilty by the country’s highest court of having violated the constitution by refusing an order to pay back money he took from the state to build himself a private mansion. Corruption charges against him, dropped in 2009, are likely to be reinstated soon. Last year the president fired his respected finance minister, apparently because he had refused to sign off on a nuclear-power deal with Russia that Mr Zuma favoured. Rumours planted by the president’s cronies last month suggested that the current, also impressive, finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, faced imminent arrest (he has so far survived, but is weakened and consequently less likely to challenge Mr Zuma’s excesses).

Until the ANC faces a genuine threat at the ballot box, none of this is likely to change. It won 62% of the vote at the most recent general election, in 2014. Its nearest rival, the Democratic Alliance (DA), managed barely a third of that. Still, the ruling party is not as secure as it once was: a breakaway far-left group, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), took a surprising 6%. And now the ANC faces what could be its toughest test yet (see article). Municipal elections are due on August 3rd. The DA has run Cape Town well and honestly for many years. It has high hopes of breaking out of that enclave and taking power in several other big cities. The greatest prize would be Johannesburg, the country’s commercial capital. That race may be beyond its reach, but others are not. If the DA can take, and make a good fist of running, a slate of municipalities, that will stand it in excellent stead at the 2019 general election.

Incremental reformers v revolutionary hucksters

To do so, it must overcome two obstacles. First, it must persuade black South Africans, who are 80% of the population, that it is not just a party for white and coloured (mixed-race) people. Here it has made progress: it is now led by a black politician and is the closest thing South Africa has to a post-racial party. Second, it must persuade voters that the best alternative to the ANC is the DA’s platform of incremental liberal reform, rather than the EFF’s wild promises of revolution, nationalisation and jobs for all. South Africa needs an opposition, but not one that sees Zimbabwe as a role model.

Pistorius walks on stumps in court as seeks to avoid jail

By TJ Strydom and Tanisha Heiberg

PRETORIA (Reuters) – Oscar Pistorius shuffled through a Pretoria court without his prosthetic legs on Wednesday to show how vulnerable he is as the Paralympian seeks to avoid prison for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The 29-year-old faces a minimum 15-year jail term for the Valentine’s Day killing in 2013 in a case that has attracted worldwide interest and divided South Africa. He will be sentenced on July 6.

Pistorius has always said he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he fired four shots through a locked toilet door in his Pretoria home, killing her almost instantly.

During his closing arguments, defense lawyer Barry Roux asked the gold medalist, known as the “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fibre prosthetics, to walk on his stumps to show the difficulty he faced dealing with the threat of an intruder.

The lower part of his legs were amputated when he was a baby.

His body shaking with emotion, Pistorius removed his prosthetics and stood on his stumps for about five minutes in front of the court television camera, wiping away tears with a tissue.

“The accused was vulnerable because of his disability,” Roux said. “His failure to conduct a rational thought process does not negate his vulnerability.”

The defense says Pistorius did not deliberately kill model and law graduate Steenkamp and was “a broken man”, calling for a non-custodial sentence that includes community service.

A state prosecutor argued that Pistorius – who did not take the stand himself – had shown no remorse or told the court why he fired the shots, and asked the court jail the athlete for the prescribed minimum sentence of 15-years.

The athlete originally received a five-year sentence for a manslaughter conviction, that was upgraded to murder on appeal. The original trial judge, Thokozile Masipa, was presiding at the hearings at the Pretoria High Court.


Roux asked the judge to consider that his client was vulnerable because of his disability and that the prescribed 15-year minimum sentence should give the court “unease”.

“The fact is that a disabled person in jail has a more difficult time,” Roux said.

The case has prompted a fierce debate in a country beset by high levels of violent crime against women and still dealing with the legacy of decades of apartheid race-based rule.

Some rights groups have said Pistorius, a wealthy white man, has received preferential treatment.

Pistorius reached the pinnacle of his fame in London 2012 when he became the first double amputee to run in the Olympics, reaching the 400 meters semi-finals, before taking two golds in the Paralympics.

Roux said the publicity surrounding the case led to it being portrayed as an incident of gender-based violence, despite the facts showing it was not. Pistorius had now “become the face of gender violence”, he said.

Shortly after Roux asked Pistorius to walk without his prosthetics, prosecutor Gerrie Nel requested that the judge allow photos to be shown of Steenkamp’s bloodied head and torso.

Masipa ruled that the photos be made available to the public upon request. She said the photos had been banned to protect the Steenkamp family, who had now agreed to lifting the ban.

The victim’s father Barry Steenkamp said on Tuesday that Pistorius must pay for his crime.

Prosecutor Nel said Pistorius had failed to show remorse.

“There’s a chasm between regret and remorse,” Nel said. “Real remorse would have been the accused taking the court into his confidence, telling the court why I fired that shot, why I did what I did. We don’t have that.”

Johannesburg-based criminal law attorney Zola Majavu said the judge could only deviate from handing out the minimum sentence if Pistorius had demonstrated exceptional circumstances to warrant such a deviation.

He said Pistorius’ decision not to speak in court could prove central: “It was a perfect opportunity to show the court that he does take responsibility for his actions.”

Pistorius has given an interview to British television, which will be aired next week.

South Africa is divided over graphic photos of Oscar Pistorius’s dead girlfriend

Barry Steenkamp, father of Reeva Steenkamp, leaves the North Gauteng High Court on June 15. (Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images)
Barry Steenkamp, father of Reeva Steenkamp, leaves the North Gauteng High Court on June 15. (Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images)

JOHANNESBURG — South Africans hoping for some closure this week in the saga of Oscar Pistorius’s tragic fall were doomed to be disappointed, as a judge set the athlete’s sentencing date for July and people woke up to a gruesome image of Reeva Steenkamp’s body on the front page of some morning newspapers.

More than three years after Pistorius shot Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day, the crime continues to grip and divide South Africa, where the O.J. Simpson-style broadcast of the trial has become a national obsession.

The judge’s decision on Wednesday to grant a request by the victim’s family to make public photos from the crime scene has struck some as a hard but important way to communicate the gravity of Pistorius’s crime, and others as a move that risks voyeurism and desensitizing viewers in a country suffering from high levels of violence.

During harrowing testimony Tuesday at Pistorius’s murder sentencing, a trembling Barry Steenkamp, Reeva’s father, told the court he hoped making the photographs public might help deter violent crime.

“A lot of people will disagree with me, and think that I’m callous or whatever it is, but what I would like the world to see are the wounds inflicted onto Reeva, and the pain that she must have gone through,” he said. “So that the world can see this and most probably distract people who are thinking of that type of deed to stop them in future. And this is why I ask if something like that could be shown to everybody.”

Media organizations and observers were split on the merits of publishing photographs of a murder that South Africans have been hearing and reading about since 2013. The photos were quickly circulated, and by Thursday, a handful of mostly foreign outlets had published them on-line. Several used liberal blurring, but at least one South African daily, the New Age, ran a large close-up of Steenkamp’s bloodied head across the front page of its print edition under the headline, “Pic Reeva’s dad wants you to see.” But a number of news outlets downplayed or did not publish the pictures.

South African news channel eNCA said on its Facebook page that it would not be publishing the photos due to their graphic nature, while others took to social media to ask readers what they thought:

Why Oscar Pistorius Is Being Re-sentenced for Murder


(SOMERSET WEST, South Africa) — Oscar Pistorius is going back to jail. The only question now is for how long? It could be 15 years. The double-amputee Olympic runner’s sentencing hearing opens Monday after he was convicted of murder by South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal for shooting girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. It’ll be the second time Pistorius has been sentenced for the killing following an appeal by prosecutors. The three-year legal saga that began with the fatal gunshots in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day 2013 now appears to be near its end.

A recap of the case:


Pistorius was initially convicted of the lesser charge of culpable homicide, or manslaughter, at his 2014 trial for shooting Steenkamp through a closed toilet door in his home. He testified he mistook the model and reality TV celebrity for a nighttime intruder hiding in a bathroom, and shot with his 9mm pistol in self-defense fearing an attack. The trial judge accepted part of Pistorius’ story, and he was given a five-year jail sentence based on the judge’s ruling that he acted recklessly, but didn’t mean to kill. After serving a year in jail, Pistorius was released on parole in line with South African procedure and has been living under house arrest at his uncle’s mansion since October last year.

But following Pistorius’ manslaughter verdict, prosecutors appealed to the Supreme Court, saying that the former star athlete, a multiple Paralympic champion, should have been found guilty of murder. They argued that Pistorius intended to kill someone — even if he didn’t know it was Steenkamp in the toilet cubicle — when he shot four times through the door with no justification.

In December, a panel of Supreme Court judges agreed with prosecutors, overturned Pistorius’ manslaughter conviction, and raised it to a more serious murder conviction. Pistorius must now be sentenced for murder.

Supreme Court Justice Lorimer Leach said: “The accused ought to have been found guilty of murder on the basis that he had fired the fatal shots with criminal intent.”


Possibly 15 years in prison. That’s the minimum sentence for murder in South Africa, which no longer has the death penalty.

Legal experts say a judge can reduce that sentence in some circumstances, and that Pistorius’ disability and the fact that he is a first-time offender could be taken into account. He has also already served a year in prison.

Pistorius will return to the same courthouse in Pretoria where his dramatic seven-month murder trial played out in 2014 to be sentenced again. The hearing has been scheduled to last a week and Pistorius’ punishment will again be decided by Judge Thokozile Masipa, who acquitted him of murder at his trial but had her decision overturned by the Supreme Court.

Pistorius appears set to be starting a long prison sentence when the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics — where he intended to end his acclaimed track career — take place in Rio de Janeiro.

In a statement ahead of the sentencing hearing, Pistorius’ family said they do not know “what the future holds for Oscarafter this week.”


No. Pistorius has exhausted all his options. After his conviction was changed to murder by the Supreme Court last year, Pistorius appealed to South Africa’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, to review his case. The Constitutional Court dismissed that appeal in March and Pistorius now has no chance of escaping the murder conviction.


Pistorius last appeared in public in April at a brief court hearing that scheduled dates for his sentencing.

Other than that, the 29-year-old has spent almost all his time since being released from prison in October at his uncle’s luxurious house in an upscale suburb of the capital, Pretoria. Pistorius has remained under house arrest there and can only leave the home briefly and at set times. He needs permission from authorities to travel farther than 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the house.

Yet Pistorius is never far from the news. In March, police said they launched a sting operation with the help of Pistorius’ family to catch a man attempting to scam Pistorius out of money by offering to quash his murder conviction.

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