Oscar Pistorius is white: black victim Mido Macia gives us a name to remember
DO you think Oscar Pistorius’s trial in South Africa had anything to do with race, the white man against the blacks? It does.
The Pretoria court allowed audio recording of the judgment. TV cameras could be allowed in to film the trial, and certainly the closing arguments. Trials involving government officials are televised in South Africa. This is because in the days of apartheid, justice was not colour blind. In 1969, South Africa abolished jury trials, because of racial prejudice by white jurors. A jury has to give no reasons for its findings. The judge does.
And, then, how South African is Oscar Pistorius? Is he everyone’s hero? Is he more of an idol to the country’s 11% whites than the majority blacks? One day after the runner shot dead his white lover, Reeva Steenkamp, as the world’s media whirled into a frenzy at the death of a photogenic blonde at the hands of famous, rich white man, the editorial of the Sowetan newspaper focused on the story of the sporting “legend” – Phil Setshedi, the football coach, was given an eight-year prison sentence for match fixing.
Ever heard of him before now? What about the black miners? In August 2012, 34 people were killed after police opened fire on striking miners at South Africa’s Marikana mine. The police shot to kill. (When trouble flared between miners at Rustenburg in February this year, security guard used rubber bullets. No-one died.)
Here’s the question: can you name any of the miners killed?
The current big story of the South African justice system is of Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia. He was tied to a back of a van and dragged down a street. Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega says the crime caught on a mobile phone was “callous and unacceptable behaviour”. Mido Macia, 27, had been arrested in Daveytown, east of Johannesburg. He died in police cells of head injuries and internal bleeding.
What was Macia’s crime that led to his death? Answer: his mini-bus taxi was parked illegally.
The miners were all black. Mido Macia was black. Oscar Pistorius is white.
Mido Macia might be the black name that sticks in the public’s mind. We can’t all name the miners massacred by the brutal police, but we can name the migrant taxi driver.
South African justice is in the dock. Race haunts the country.