So call me a liar for saying that I only had one comment on Oscar because I clearly have more. I cannot tell you why because really, it all seems like such a waste of time gabbling on about him because after all, nothing I say is going to affect the appeal and who cares what I have to say ( but isn’t this the idea behind blogging? Having a say, regardless of who reads it? Dunno- still new to this and trying to figure out why I am doing this…perhaps you, dear reader of blogs can tell me?) But here it is: I have something more to say because I see the appeal is pending. Funny, The defence didn’t seem to know the date (18th Nov- as read in paper today) but somehow the media did.
Okay. So the State will appeal on the grounds that dolus was incorrectly interpreted. Unfortunately, (for him) I do believe that this ground of appeal will succeed. All the experts agree that he MUST have had the foreseeability. And I do too.
And then, there’s the issue of sentence. “Hopelessly” inappropriate or “shockingly” appropriate was Nel’s view with too much emphasis on the personal circumstances of the accused and too little on the gravity of the offence and the manner in which the death occurred. I agree too – in part. Because there could be few more traumatic scenarios than being an entirely innocent and defenceless person standing behind a door in a confined space with nowhere to escape, facing four bullets. Simply horrific, tragic and so completely unnecessary. With devastating affects for so many people.
And yet…and yet…there are these issues about punishment and the reasons for why we punish people and the aims of punishment that I cannot fail to mull over all the time, and whenever I see his face and I want to comment briefly.
Let’s first deal with the deterrent aspect. The fact that the law MUST have as it’s aim, the prevention of further crime, both by the offender and by other potential offenders, so either individually or collectively. And of course, particularly in the SA context, a crime-ridden society, this is vital. We seriously need to deter people from committing crimes. Do we do this effectively though? Is our justice system achieving this? Not sure. Haven’t looked at statistics that can validate this. But in Oscar’s case, is this relevant? I don’t think so. I really cannot imagine that he is likely to repeat this sort of behavior though some may say he is a reckless, gun-toting madman. Yes, of course, he should NEVER ever have a gun again.
NEITHER SHOULD HALF THE POPULATION THAT DO.
But, perhaps what he needs is serious help. Serious psychiatric care and support to try and deconstruct this blatantly aggressive, unacceptable behavior. I can’t believe he wants to be like this- do you really think he LIKES being this ?So, no in summary, I don’t think punishment for deterrent’s sake is entirely relevant to him.
Prevention? Yes, of course, for the time that he is imprisoned, he is prevented from killing someone else. Ties in with previous comment. I really don’t think he is the type of person who is planning his next murder. Do you? Of course, there are tons of inmates though that are.
Revenge? Retribution? An eye for an eye? Archaic, barbaric. We have moved on from there. Not relevant.
Rehabilitation? Yes. Does he need to be rehabilitated as such? Sure. He needs serious counseling and help. Where is the best place for this to take place, to be effective? In prison? For 10 years? Dunno. Doesn’t sound right. Prison does not always and conclusively serve to rehabilitate everyone. Some are truly beyond rehabilitation and the community they are returned to certainly doesn’t help.
So that really leaves restoration. To restore the unjust, the unfair, the tragic set of circumstances which led to parents and others losing someone they loved in the most devastating of circumstances. To restore the balance in society. To try and compensate the Steenkamps for the loss of their child and the loss of their livelihood. That’s one of the reasons for punishment.
But then surely this aim should be relevant for Oscar too? For his punishment to be restorative? But then how? How can justice be restored by putting Oscar into a small prison cell where he serves no purpose at all- other than to have hours and nights to think about what he has done? And be sorry. And be remorseful and be tormented.
Doesn’t it seem more purposeful if his punishment really DOES have a restorative effect? If he really can do something to repay the Steenkamps? Some constructive way to provide an income for them which , hell, we all know they certainly could do with?
I just don’t know. It all seems so fruitless, so useless, having this person sitting in prison, not only broke, but clearly broken in so many ways. A Broken Monster. So little respect and dignity left of this guy. What more can long-term imprisonment add to all this? Really?
So , I am the liar because I really wasn’t going to say more.
Was Oscar a liar too?
Does it matter?
There’s one last thing I want to say here…
I read somewhere that June Steenkamp said that she remembers the last chatty conversation she had with Reeva earlier that evening. Something about her saying she was planning a nice, quiet relaxing evening at home with her boyfriend… (think it was an excerpt of her book released this week though can’t be sure) She didn’t know anything about this guy at this stage…had never even heard of the Blade Runner before Reeva told her…
So why suddenly did she feel that judging from the pic of her coming in at the security gate that something was wrong? That Reeva looked worried ? Her last conversation revealed none of this anxiety and yet she also KNEW that they had never had sex? Could she be sure??