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Fatigue sets in as Oscar exits

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REUTERS

Oscar Pistorius (L) arrives ahead of his trial at North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Pretoria - I got home on Monday night and she was in her PJs, face pressed close to her iPad.

“Don’t tell me what happens next,” my sister said. “I’ve haven’t watched it all yet.”

The lead character wasn’t handsome. He had a voice more Blood Diamond than Sean Connery. But prosecutor Gerrie Nel was proving to be smart, and she was hooked to his line of thought as he prodded Oscar Pistorius’s version of events.

But by Tuesday evening, she sounded somewhat dejected on the phone. She was comforting herself by making a pot of brown onion soup.

“My TV show is over,” she said. “I don’t know if I’ll watch any more.”

With Pistorius off the stand, there was a general sense of exhaustion – I’ve heard enough. Please just wake me up when it’s over.

Dr Jackie de Wet, from the criminology and forensic studies department at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said watching Pistorius’s testimony was emotionally draining, whether you were in the gallery or on the couch at home.

“He was telling his version of how that night happened,” said De Wet. “You got involved in the emotion that he showed.” He said this lull was natural, and interest would pick up again once people had had a break.

De Wet himself has proved to be one of this column’s favourite commentators.

Was he also bored with my phone calls asking for off-the-cuff dissections of trial minutiae?

“Jaaaackie it’s Theresa Taylor from The Star. Do you have a few minutes to talk about (insert topic here).”

I’m pretty sure he recognises my number, but he’s still taking my calls.

“We don’t actually get bored because this is what we do,” De Wet said. “You will be in court, testify for half an hour and stay in court for five or six days with the possibility that you get recalled.”

He said that for experts, there was always something of interest that they could fit to a narrative. But despite that, this case wasn’t special. He said everything up until this point had been standard practice in terms of the legal process.

The picture of Reeva Steenkamp’s head wounds. Gerrie Nel is a bulldog. Barry Roux seems pedantic. Or was it Roux who was the bulldog and Nel who was pedantic?

The favoured metaphors seem to change with the changing media tide.

Professor Franz Kruger, of Wits University’s journalism department, said people were generally in two camps as to whether they were hooked or bored. He said the mass coverage of the trial was not unethical on the part of media houses as long as other important issues didn’t get waylaid in the process.

theresa.taylor@inl.co.za

The Star


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