Pistorius Trial Can Be Broadcast, South African Judge Says

The murder trial of South African paralympian gold medalist Oscar Pistorius may be broadcast live on radio and television, High Court Judge Dunstan Mlambo said.

Pistorius, who’s charged with murdering his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, opposed live broadcasts of the trial, which is scheduled to start March 3. Multichoice Africa Ltd. and Primedia Broadcasting Ltd. were granted permission to provide the coverage, Mlambo said today in the North Gauteng High Court.

“Allowing the objections in their entirety would surely jettison the noble objectives of the principle of open justice,” he said. “In this day and age I cannot countenance a stance that seeks to entrench the workings of the justice system away from the public domain.”

Pistorius, 27, shot and killed Steenkamp on Feb. 14 last year. The track star, known as “The Blade Runner” because of his J-shaped prosthetic running blades, says he thought Steenkamp was an intruder at his Pretoria home.

Television footage will be limited to the opening and closing arguments, expert evidence, police testimony and the delivery of the judgment, Mlambo said. Pistorius’s evidence can’t be filmed, while that of witnesses can only be televised with their consent, he said.

Close-Ups Banned

Multichoice is allowed to install three cameras in the courtroom 72 hours before the hearings start, Mlambo said. The judge will determine at which points of the trial they can film, he said, adding that close-ups will be prohibited.

Multichoice, a unit of Africa’s largest media comany Naspers Ltd., operates the continent’s largest pay-television business. The Johannesburg-based company is planning to broadcast a 24-hour television channel dedicated to coverage of the trial. Primedia operates several news and talk-radio stations in South Africa.

Pistorius will also face charges of contravening the Firearms Control Act.

He has been free on 1 million rand ($93,100) bail since February last year after prosecutors charged him with premeditated murder for the shooting of Steenkamp.

Steenkamp, then 29 years old, locked herself in a toilet cubicle and Pistorius, armed with a 9mm pistol, fired four shots at her through the locked door, according to the indictment. The cause of death was given as multiple gunshot wounds.

Pistorius was the first amputee runner to compete in an Olympic Games in 2012 in London. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world and he won six Paralympic gold medals. He was born without fibulas and had both legs amputated below the knee at 11 months old.

Since his arrest, sponsors including Nike Inc., the world’s largest sporting-goods company, and Luxottica Group SpA’s Oakley have ended deals with Pistorius.

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