For a three-member bench comprising two women (one white and one black) and two blacks (one female and one male) to find a white Afrikaner man accused of murdering a woman guilty of the extremely serious offence of culpable homicide instead of premeditated murder, should be celebrated as the triumph of SA’s judicial independence and lack of race and gender bias over mass hysteria.   As should other unpopular judgments, such as those on Winnie Mandela, accused of murdering Stompie Seipei, and Wouter Basson, accused of and waging drug and chemical warfare against blacks.

Leon Louw’s latest opinion piece Ignorance fuels feeding frenzy over Pistorius first appeared in BDLive on 17 September 2014 and his earlier column was referred to in the recent post No Oscar awarded for ‘slow’ thinking.


As I predicted, strident opinions would neither wait nor, as required by law, be based on rational consideration of proven facts, which, at the time of writing, could have gone either way.   People made up their minds on no more evidence than pre-trial speculation and gossip.   Summarised reports of the state’s case, inevitably compelling and prominent, rendered preconceived notions impervious to countervailing evidence.   Evidence that, as the unanimous judgment explained, conclusively invalidated much of the prosecution’s case.

An eNCA cartoon aptly juxtaposed the judge’s 15 years of experience with Joe Soap’s 15 tweets.   For lay people to presume, after 15 tweets, gossip and speculative reports laced with personal prejudice, to know more than three professional jurists, all of whom might, if anything, have been biased against Pistorius, tells us more about social psychology than justice.

One of the first things to be sacrificed on the altar of irrational passion is truth.   A deluge of nonsense spewed from foreign media: the UK Guardian fabricates the notion that Pistorius invoked a “mythical black intruder”.   What, it asks, “must a man do to be found guilty of murdering a woman?”   How about be proven beyond reasonable doubt to have done so? Just as they “knew” Pistorius was guilty before the trial, they “know” before sentence that “punishment will not be enough”.

. . . .

The sober reporting in the US’s Wall Street Journal is one of the exceptions to the cacophony of gutter commentary which, sadly, are few and far between.

The judge and the assessors spent hundreds of hours applying their minds to law and evidence; they are not guilty of the irrationality of their critics and deserve respect.