How Pistorius’s verdict reflects on South African legal system and what lies ahead for his sentencing

Yesterday morning, Pistorius’s culpable homicide conviction was replaced with murder, two legal experts give their opinion on the ruling and what lies ahead for his sentencing.

The South African Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruled that Pistorius should have foreseen the deadly impact his four bullets would have had in the small bathroom.

The new ruling over turns the decision made by Judge Masipa of the High Court.

Commenting  on the previous ruling Justice Eric Leach of the SCA called Masipa’s decision a “fundamental error.”

When asked how the change in verdict reflects on the South African justice system, Professor Penelope Andrews, Dean of the Law Faculty at the University of Cape Town said: “This should not be seen to be as an adverse comment upon Masipa’s  competence and ability.”

She went on to say: “Lots of judges decisions are over turned in the appeal process that’s why the process exists, the fact that a judge may not have applied the facts properly does not mean the South African criminal justice system is a mess.”

Commenting on the new verdict Prof. Andrews said: “The judges who dealt with the appeal at the Supreme Court were spot on, so I think that has shown how good our criminal justice system is and more importantly that it is fair.

“As an accused you know you can take the matter further or the state can, if there are sufficient grounds based on the law.”

Commenting on his reaction to the verdict Dr. Mohamed Chiktay Senior Lecturer at WITS University School of Law (Johannesburg) said: “Masipa showed restraint and dealt with the case in a professional manner but at the end of the day when you look at the facts and the law, it is quite evident where she went off in the wrong direction.

“She incorrectly dealt with the concept of doulas intervenciones.”

Commenting on Pistorius’s re-sentencing  Dr.  Chiktay said: “Sentencing will be a difficult aspect of the case, the judge will have to be objective and balance all the factors that are relevant like his disability, age and the fact that he has no prior convictions.”

Prof. Andrews said: “Pistorius will have to supply a compelling reason as to why he should not be sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in jail, his disability should not affect his sentencing, one cannot give leniency to anyone who killed a person without any proof that they posed a real threat.”

This morning Barry Steenkamp, Reeva Steenkamp’s farther said: “We will have to wait and see what happens at sentencing but for now justice has prevailed and we can try get on with our lives for now.”

Man dies following bizarre crash

Pathhead Sands, sight of the bizarre crash in Kirkcaldy

 

A 30 year-old Polish man died yesterday after he crashed his car into a boulder in Kirkcaldy.

The incident, which took place at Pathhead Sands, is believed to have happened during a meeting of Polish BMW enthusiasts.

Inspector Brenda Sinclair of Fife Constabulary has appealed for any witnesses to come forward.

“We understand that a number of people who were attending this event left the area prior to the arrival of emergency services, and we would urge them to contact us as they may have information which would help us.”

Get Some Bottle: Dolphin Slaughtering in Japan

Dead dolphins after hunting

Dolphins after slaughter - photo courtesy of wendmag.com

By Rahsian Parris

With the new movie The Cove due to hit UK screens this month, the riveting depiction of the horrors surrounding Japanese Whale and Dolphin slaughtering has come at an ideal time. The beginning of hunting season.

Under the light of the warm summer sun herds of small children and adults alike pour into dolphinariums, theme parks and marine mammal parks to get a small glimpse of these spectacular creatures in action. The applause crescendos into a roar of happy cheers, a sea of smiling faces, as one of the most intelligent animals on the planet performs an array of playful tasks. Swimming backwards? Check! Balancing a ball on its nose? Check! The benevolent mammals seemingly have no qualms about jumping through hoops for their superiors, but when the sun starts to set, the doors begin to shut and the chill of the night air sets in, the only reminder of the joys of the day are the empty candy floss sticks stuck to the concrete floors.

Fast-forward a few months and in the small fishing town of Taiji, Japan, Dolphin hunting season has begun. Select fisherman of the 3,500 populated town, are poised in position, watching with stealth and trained eyes for a pod of dolphins. When the group are identified they are debilitated by fisherman who bang metal rods together in the water, disorientating the mammals and effecting their ultra sensitive sonars. The crippled animals are quickly driven into a cove blocked off by other boats and nets, trapped, they are left overnight to calm down. The next day the Dolphins are individually captured and then killed one by one. A sharp metal pin is driven into the neck of the Dolphin. It dies almost instantaneously. This method of killing is said to be less brutal than the previous method which has been made illegal in Japan, where after the Dolphin is separated from the other captives, its throat is slit and the Dolphin is left to violently convulse before its imminent death.

The hunt starts at the beginning of September, with the first day bringing in at least 100 Bottlenose Dolphins and maybe some Pilot Whales, but Japan’s annual quota is approximately 20,000 Dolphins. Aquariums can pay up to £90,000 for one of these Dolphins, but most of them are killed, their meat being sold for about £330 per carcass. Tickets for a show at a dolphinarium can cost as little as £20.

It has been argued that Whale and Dolphin hunting is part of the Japanese tradition, that the meat gathered during the hunts becomes part of  the local dishes, which are part of the culture, which is paramount to the identity of the nation, however, after capture, the slaughtering takes place very much under wraps, behind (several) closed doors (barriers), as far away from prying eyes as it is from patriots. Although there are several organizations that continuously strive to put a stop to the slaughtering of Dolphins and Whales in Japan, and on a smaller scale, in other places, drive hunting, as it is known, continues to be a serious, global, animal welfare issue.

One activist in particular has been making a stand for over three decades. Ex-Dolphin trainer, Ric O’Barry is a dedicated campaigner against the atrocities of drive hunting, saying “I’ve been working with dolphins for most of my life. I watched them give birth. I’ve nursed them back to health. When I see what happens in this cove in Taiji, I want to do something about it.” In his new film The Cove he seeks to uncover the truth surrounding the multi-billion dollar Dolphin entertainment industry that he himself use to endorse (O’Barry captured and trained all 5 Dolphins that were used in the television series “Flipper”). The movie seeks to expose, educate and inspire people into action, showing the reality of the blood thirsty industries that hide behind sugar coated notions and sun kissed dreams.

Over a montage of breath taking clips of Dolphins swimming out at sea, coupled with grim, savage scenes filmed on hidden cameras by O’Barry’s team of activists, we hear the voice-over “If I destroy anything in nature, I’m taking it away from myself and the human race has to wake up to that, because we’re losing it all and we’re losing it at a horrifying rate.” and suddenly you are taken back to those fond, sun drenched, childhood memories where the summers are extra long and the future is a certainty, yet the in the back of your mind an image lingers and in this image there are no hoops, no beach balls, no tomorrow.

The Cove is in cinemas from the 23rd of October

 

 

Increase in cyclist deaths on Britain’s roads

Cyclist deaths on Britain’s roads have gone up 20% from spring 2008 to 2009, according to Department for Transport data.

Andrew Howard, Public Relations Director for AA says that the increase in deaths may be a result of more cyclists on the roads due to a combination of better weather conditions and a drive to save money.

He said: “We have seen quiet a hefty increase in petrol prices making more people think about how they can be more economical and of course how they could get more exercise out of going to work.”

A typical bicycle costs £300 and running a car can cost up to £2,000 annually or more, whereas an annual bus pass in Edinburgh costs £540.

Amy Wilson, a cyclist from Edinburgh says that there should be more respect from both cyclists and motorists.

She added: “There are so many bikes in Edinburgh and I think there is probably not enough provision for them.”

Bicycle shop owners in Edinburgh recorded a sharp increase in sales over the last two years and say this may also be the cause of the increase in accidents.

Gregor Russell, owner of Velo Ecosse said: “I think it is not surprising at all that there have been more accidents as there are more cyclists on the roads and the standards of driving is pretty poor.”

Nearly half of bicycle owners ride less than 5 miles per month even though 75% of the UK population lives within 2 miles of the National Cycle Network, according to AA.

Ian McKay, a motorist from Edinburgh says he pays attention to cyclists and gives plenty of space to them on the roads.

However, “My gripe with them is when I am a pedestrian and I am walking down the pavement and they are hammering towards me, I don’t think that should be allowed. I think there should be a clamp down and they should be fined”.

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