Oscar Pistorius’s sentencing of 6 years in jail for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp by the High Court in Pretoria has brought South Africans, particularly blacks, to believe that the country’s Judicial System ‘reflects and promotes’ cultural clashes in the country.
On Wednesday, Judge Thokozile Masipa handed down Pistorius’ sentence saying the mitigating factors outweigh aggravating ones, which justify deviating from the minimum sentence of 15 years.
A huge debate about the quality of High court Judges has heated up as Pistorius’s trial has been compared with Sindisiwe Manqele who was sentenced to 12 years behind bars for the 9 March 2015 killing of her rapper boyfriend, Skwata Kamp Member Nkululeko ‘Flabba’ Habedi and the two men who were convicted and sentenced to 15 years each for robbing an South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) news crew at gunpoint during a live broadcast outside Milpark Hospital.
Former estate agent, Penny Sparrow who was fined R150 000 for likening black beachgoers to monkeys‚ once again through twitter praised Masipa and said she deserves to be a change of skin colour.
— Penny Sparrow (@Penny_Sparow) July 6, 2016
Not only did the verdict ‘promote’ racism within the country’s justice system, but it has also brought the quality of work done by South African high court judges back under public scrutiny, leading to black lawyers being labelled as regularly stereotyped and having their competence questioned.
This is not a new phenomenon in South Africa, but underlying the debate is much more than the quality of the country’s judges, it is about race.
South Africa’s judiciary is highly dominated by men and has a higher proportion of white judges compared to the country’s race demographics.
It also puts the spotlight on transformation of the legal profession as a whole, drawing questions like is transformation about creating conditions that are open, bias- free and non-hierarchical? Or transformation is a shield of prejudice and hindered assumptions linked to race? The Judicial Service Commission role to ensure transformation is also now been placed under scrutiny.
But as it seriously stands now, Masipa is in need of serious defence, with social commentary racially prejudiced, ‘blacks’ are livid and the Supreme Court I presume had anticipated the public discourse footed by this verdict.
And lingering in people’s minds is the question whether he will at least serve the sentence as according to the Criminal Procedure Act‚ he must serve 50 percent of his murder sentence before he can be considered for possible placement on parole.
A consolation for citizens is that Pistorius will celebrate his 30th birthday in jail.
By Senzile Kubheka