ANCYL: Pistorius case highlights the privileges of white athletes

Oscar Pistorius appears in court during his bail hearing. (Felix Karlsson, M&G)

Oscar Pistorius appears in court during his bail hearing. (Felix Karlsson, M&G)

"While the country continues to mourn the life of Reeva Steenkamp and is kept focused on the unfolding events in the court, one would have to be blind to miss the privilege and wealth of Pistorius that is a consistent undertone running throughout the hearing," Youth League spokesperson Khusela Sangoni-Khawe said.

She said this was evident through his assets confirmed by the court, the preferential treatment he received by being kept at the Brooklyn police station instead of the prison, and the bail conditions.

These, she said, were consistent with Pistorius's stature as a successful and accomplished sportsman.

"South Africa's racial history is such that the minority in this country continue to reap the benefits of years of oppression of the black majority through continuing and exclusive access to training facilities, the best coaches, sponsorship deals and many other privileges open only to the white minority and not the black majority."

Sangoni-Khawe said black athletes such as Caster Semenya and Khotso Mokoena were faced with difficult circumstances on a daily basis and could "only dream about the wealth of Pistorius."

When asked if his wealth was not attributed instead to his paralympian status Sangoni-Khawe said: "There are a number of other athletes who also have disabilities. He is not the only one with disabilities".

She said white athletes have support and funding growing up and they still enjoyed this today.

"This inequality is along racial lines and even now business continues to perpetuate that inequality."

She said Pistorius was only an example.

"Business needs to ensure that there is greater equality in how they spread out their sponsorship opportunities among the athletes in this country," Sangoni-Khawe said.

Preferential treatment
Pistorius has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his home on February 14.

The decision to keep him at the Brooklyn police station was made by Magistrate Desmond Nair on February 15, during Pistorius's first court appearance, when lawyers from both his defense and the State agreed this would allow for consultation over the weekend.

Nair admitted he was concerned it could be seen as preferential treatment, but allowed it ahead of the bail hearing on Monday.

That Friday afternoon NPA spokesperson Medupe Simasiku said despite his global celebrity status Pistorius would not be getting any special treatment behind bars.

"We believe that it is fair for the accused (Pistorius) so that he can meet with his defence (lawyers). It is noted that when the accused is kept at a prison there is no after hours visit, whether from the legal team or the family."

The following Friday, February 22, after eight nights in police custody and a four days in court Pistoruis's bail application was granted.

Magistrate Desmond Nair granted Pistorius bail of R-million, with severe restrictions on his movement.

Nair ruled that he was not a flight risk, and that the State had not shown that he had a propensity for violence.

Pistorius has to pay R100 000 first, and the rest by March 1.

His bail conditions included that he not be charged with any offence relating to violence against women.

He would not be allowed to return to Silver Woods country estate, the scene of the shooting; he has to surrender his passports; he cannot apply for travel documents; he must report to the Brooklyn police station on Mondays and Fridays at set times; and he can't take banned substances or alcohol.

He will live at an address not publicly disclosed, among other conditions.

The matter was postponed until June 4.


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