The police are obliged to open a murder docket in the event of an unnatural death such as that of Reeva Steenkamp, but they are not obliged to charge anyone with murder unless they believe there is a case for such a charge. So the police must believe there is such a case to be made. This now has to play itself out in the courts, which will decide if the police are correct or not in their beliefs.
We at the Direct Democracy Forum share the empathy and sympathy felt by probably everybody in South Africa for the families involved in this tragic event but we also find the state of mind of Oscar PIstorius, that he should surround himself with guns (so rumour has it) and be almost paranoid about his own safety in his own home, terribly disturbing. This is not being judgmental of Oscar Pistorius so much as being judgmental of the society in which we all find ourselves.
As with Anene, The DDF cannot undo what has already been done. Oscar and Reeva’s tragedy is not the first and likely will not be the last of its kind. But the DDF will try to limit the incidence of such tragedies.
What the DDF will attempt is to steer South Africa toward being a gun-free society.
This requires some explanation. Every gun-owner in the land will howl in anger at the very concept, so let’s step back from the statement a bit and look at the motivation for gun ownership. There are probably a few different and distinct motives for owning a gun. There are the sportsmen, the lovers of guns for their historic roles and the elegance and beauty of their construction and presentation (some would argue that some guns are works of art) and there are those who fear for their safety and, I suppose lastly, those who wish to use them as offensive weapons.
The latter would likely be possessors of unlicensed weapons. Let us say at the outset that under a DDF administration there will be no place in South African society for such persons. To gun-lovers and collectors and sportsmen, the DDF are not directing this sentiment toward you. What the DDF wish to address is the the fear and paranoia which drives people to try and protect themselves by possessing weapons they are not trained to use. The way to remove that fear and paranoia is to make South Africa a society in which there is very little or even no need to fear crimes of violence.
To achieve that the DDF will embark in a determined and consistent effort to improve policing in terms of quality, quantity, skills and use of technology, both to prevent violent crime from occurring and to improve the reaction time of police to acts of violence in progress. The DDF will see to it that courts severely punish those guilty of crimes of violence or possessing unlicensed weapons. The DDF will also make the possession of licensed weapons subject to very onerous conditions, including regular training and counseling, particularly for those keeping weapons in their homes, and for their families. The DDF will also ensure that any inappropriate use of licensed weapons is severely punished.
In that way the DDF hope to diminish the occurrence of crimes of violence and the need for ordinary members of the public to feel compelled to protect themselves with guns. In time that could see guns being possessed only by enthusiasts and never being needed to use in fear or in anger. Too late for Reeva and Oscar but perhaps in time for others.
The buck stops at the ballot box.