Coffee House

Inside the circus – a report from the Oscar Pistorius trial

15 March 2014

2:00 PM

15 March 2014

2:00 PM


I panicked one morning when I couldn’t find the 24-hour Oscar Pistorius Trial channel on my hotel TV set. Naturally I’d done a mountain of my own research, but I’ve come to rely on the channel for titbits of background information to enhance my own breakfast reports ahead of a new day’s evidence. They can’t or won’t give us Sky News in the hotel and much as I try to keep up with the rest of the world’s news on CNN, I keep finding myself drawn back to the Oscar output.


It seems the channel that boasts ‘every angle, every moment, every decision, every fact’ was knocked off the hotel’s TV service by the appalling weather we’ve had since I arrived nearly two weeks ago. Torrential rain and floods are giving Pretoria and surrounding regions their wettest March for 14 years. My cameraman asked room service one night to send up some newspapers. Which ones would he like, The Pretoria News, Beeld, The Daily Sun? He said it didn’t matter, as long as they were big ones. He needed them to dry out his boots. While I and my colleagues may look the epitome of style and sophistication, below the screen we are wearing rain-proof trousers and standing on pallets. So much for South Africa’s summer and the sunny assignment my boss promised me after many long, winter shifts on the wet Scotland Yard pavement.

There are about 300 of us hacks here, so I’m demoted to a seat in the annexe court next door to the real thing. It’s like a cinema in the overflow, with a giant screen relaying most of the action while the audience responds to what’s said with ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’. It’s only a matter of time before someone breaks into applause.

Earlier this week, a member of the rather serious ANC Women’s League had to ask a group of young girls to tone down their laughter when a particularly smug witness told defence barrister Barry Roux that he couldn’t recall a certain distance because ‘I didn’t have a ruler with me.’ A quick check on the witness’s Facebook page revealed he listed sarcasm as one of his languages. Until that point, humour was the one thing this gripping trial had been missing.

Martin Brunt is Crime Correspondent for Sky News

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Show comments
  • Doggie Roussel

    In today’s highlights of the Pistorius saga, Oscar appears to have bought an arsenal of weapons, including a pump-action shotgun and about £ 3000.00 worth of automatic weapons, not long before the slaughter of Reeva… what planet is this geezer on and why hasn’t his £ 5,000.00 a day defence lawyer claimed that his client is insane….

    How many people do any of you know who leap out of bed in the middle of the night and start pumping dumdum bullets into a locked lavatory ?

    Wouldn’t you check who was, or was not, lying next to you in bed ?

    Why would his fragrant ex have locked the door of the lavatory, assuming it was only herself and her legless lover in the house?

    This case is truly a lawyer’s dream… it’s so obvious what happened … but the lawyers are going to walk away with squillions and Oscar is going to have to recoup his legal costs by racing against cheetahs and leopards in the Serengeti, with perhaps a 60 metre burst against O J Simpson in the yard of his USA high security jail…

  • Doggie Roussel

    Oscar’s gonna walk…. ask Betfred… in fact come the end of this ludicrous fiasco he will be walking on water… coining a zillion rand and racing against a cheetah in the Kruger National Park…

  • swatnan

    It certainly lays to rest all those misconceptions that S african Justice is as long as the Chief Justice’s nose. Its quite the opposite. Makes a change to see the polite discourse in Court and ‘M’Ladies’ being banded about politely from all concerned all day. So anyone up for murder should have no fear that they will not get a fair trial. They will get a fair trial (unless of course its a political trial against your political opponents). Justice in the former Colonies is equal to that in Britain.

  • HookesLaw

    Its clearly a slow news day – so how about a comment about Newsnight appointing a blatant Labour supporter as economics editor?
    ‘flagship news programmes hired a union official to report on the economy …. appointed Duncan Weldon, as the programme’s Economics Correspondent. Mr Weldon was until recently the senior economist at the Trades Union Congress. He also used to work for Harriet Harman’

    • Colonel Mustard

      You’ll be telling us next that bears crap in the woods.

      James Strong notwithstanding the BBC is now blatant, no longer hiding in plain view but shouting and waving the red flag. There is no longer any fear of censure or consequences. Impartiality is getting the two fingers treatment. Fat Pang is too lazy and stupid, and too soft-left, to get up off his fat backside and serve the people. Any real Tories are in hiding, or emasculated as “back benchers” and Cameron’s clique are either too stupid or too timid to take the BBC on and in any case must be feeling confused to their bien-pensant metro-sexual urban breeches.

      • telemachus

        Disingenuous comrade
        You know well that in respect of political bias the most important individual is the Political Editor
        Now just remind me who was Chair of the Oxford University Conservative Association and who was Chair of the Young Conservative Party
        He could have made it full house and been Chair of the Conservative Party but in the end that was not necessary because the Chair of the whole organisation had been that

      • HookesLaw

        The tories have protested. Media generally is left wing. Nowhere more so than in the USA. I think the history of this appointee is particularly blatant.

    • RavenRandom

      The Red BBC who’s surprised?
      Odd that the government doesn’t insist on a measure of impartiality in the state broadcaster.

  • Daniel Maris

    Crime Correspondent? I thought he was Clarence Mitchell’s spokesman.