NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on August 28, 2014.
The country’s criminal justice system was being “exploited” by police inefficiency, Paralympian Oscar Pistorius’ lawyer Barry Roux said yesterday.
“There’s tardiness; they don’t take the docket to court – sometimes they don’t take it because they sold it. Or sometimes they don’t take it because they have misfiled it,” said Roux. He blamed 80% of those in the police force, calling on them to “wake up”.
He also criticised some of the procedures in courts that led to delayed justice, saying “if justice is delayed long enough” people don’t show up any more or simply forget what happened.
He was speaking at a Wits University auditorium, filled to capacity with future lawyers, about the topic “Does our criminal justice system work as it should – from when a crime is committed through to the trial?”
Roux said the biggest problem in South Africa was that people who committed crimes did so knowing “there’s a fair chance they won’t get caught – or if arrested, won’t get tried”.
Roux, with 30 years’ experience behind him, was introduced as a “master cross-examiner”, something the entire country has had the opportunity of witnessing during the trial of Pistorius.
Roux became a celebrity overnight because of the case, with memes and a parody account to match on Twitter.
The room cracked up with laughter when Roux talked about witnesses who claimed they “don’t remember” events when testifying on the witness stand.
Roux added that testimonies based on what people said they saw could be unreliable because their versions would be reproductions of what happened based on their perception.