Pistorius arrival wrong-foots waiting media

Athlete walks in through front door

Police try to hold back the media as Carl Pistorius, the brother of Oscar Pistorius, arrives at North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria yesterday for the opening day of the athlete’s murder trial. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Police try to hold back the media as Carl Pistorius, the brother of Oscar Pistorius, arrives at North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria yesterday for the opening day of the athlete’s murder trial. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Tue, Mar 4, 2014, 01:00

Much to the annoyance of the majority of news teams awaiting his arrival, Oscar Pistorius walked into the North Gauteng High Court practically unnoticed yesterday morning to face the opening day of his murder trial.

Hundreds of media crews had been waiting in the pouring rain outside the old redbricked courthouse on Madiba Street in downtown Pretoria since 5am hoping to capture images of the murder accused walking into court.

As 10am drew close the media scrum gathered near a recently opened side entrance in the belief the athlete would enter court that way. But as everyone awaited his arrival he walked through the front door behind them and was gone before most noticed.

“I can’t believe we missed him. Do you think the court officials opened that side entrance to throw us,” a photographer asked a colleague, before adding there would be plenty of opportunities to snap the man before this case concluded.


Judge
Over the next three to six weeks judge Thokozile Masipa must decide whether Pistorius intentionally killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp when he shot her dead at his home on St Valentine’s morning last year. Pistorius insists it was an accident, as he thought she was an intruder.

Aside from the world’s media, curious members of the public also came to catch a glimpse of the fallen hero known as the Blade Runner for his athletic achievements on prosthetic legs.

One man, who requested anonymity, expressed his disgust at the media teams taking over the city block around the courthouse.

“It’s a crazy situation that will not help justice prevail,” he said. “He has killed a person, the evidence is there, but how can people involved not be influenced by all this?”

Mpya Mabatho, a student, held the opposite view, saying: “I think it’s right this case gets such attention. Violence against women needs to be highlighted in South Africa as it’s such a problem.”

Despite the high-profile nature of the case, anyone could walk into the courthouse to catch a glimpse of what was going on inside, as long as they stayed out of courtroom BD, where the case is taking place.

This arrangement greatly pleased US-based Elizabeth McGill and Pretoria woman Caitlyn Kyle, two Pistorius fans who met on social media and decided to attend the first day of the trial.

McGill, from Phoenix, Arizona, arrived in Johannesburg yesterday morning and made her way straight to the courthouse. “I believe his account of what happened, and anyone with any intelligence would come to the same conclusion,” she said.

Kyle, a student at the University of Pretoria, where Pistorius sometimes trains, said she was a huge fan and would often go to the athletics track to watch the sprinter run.

“A lot of us would make the effort to go watch him. I think what he has achieved is just amazing, and I don’t think he meant to kill Reeva,” she said.