53 thoughts on “Oscar Mpetha

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  • Uzbek in the UK

    If the question that really is behind this blog is whether or not South Africa is the most racially unequal and white supermasist country in the world then the answer is most certainly Yes.

    But equally, the victim was white too.

  • Eddie-G

    I’m from South Africa originally, and a bit disappointed in this post from you, Craig.

    No-one should dispute the institutionally racist criminal justice system, at all levels, back in the apartheid era. That people like Oscar Mpetha were subject to these sort of injustices was an intended feature of the system then.

    To compare his case however, to Pistorius’s, some 25+ years later, is absurd. To suggest a racist angle to the fact Pistorius was granted bail is, at best, trolling.

    Pistorius is an Afrikaner, famous, disabled, white, and also, INCREDIBLY WEALTHY. He has assembled the finest team of defence lawyers money can buy. They are up against a police force and prosecuting authority that is institutionally under-resourced and reliably incompetent. That this bail decision broke his way is really not a surprise.

    I’ve spent god-knows how many painful hours of my life working with my father who represents Cape Town residents in police liaison. The details are too painful to recount (the default setting of any investigation is “files went missing”), but the idea that the police may provide any sort of a service to communities, communities of any colour, is an insult. The police force in SA is a shambles, the prosecution service hopelessly politicised, the net effect is that the well-off and well-connected almost invariably get their way in court.

    Bottom line, the flaws in South Africa’s justice system today are little to do with racism. If you believe otherwise, you’ve obviously not read much about the relationship between the senior ANC brass and the supposed independent prosecuting authorities. The one bright spot is that the most senior judges tend to be decent and competent people; and obviously quite unlike the apartheid era judiciary.

  • craig Post author

    Eddie-G

    I don’t disagree with a lot of that, I just perhaps forgive less readily than you. Some Afrikaaner woman (a criminologist, I think she was introduced as) opined that Pistorius needs as an amputee were a reason he shouldn’t be kept in jail. Borught Oscar Mpetha back strongly to mind – a great man, by the way.

    The existence of a wealthy highly corrupt black elite doesn’t mean racial advantage has been eliminated in South Africa.

  • Anon

    O/T But there’s a good BBC 4 Documentary on Anonymous. Heavily featured is the battle against Scientology and the support for Wikileaks. Interestingly there is no mention of Wikileaks in the programme information provided by the BBC. Possibly because it doesn’t demonise Assange and Wikileaks.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01qxmwp/Storyville_20122013_How_Hackers_Changed_the_World_We_Are_Legion/

    Storyville – 2012-2013 – 19. How Hackers Changed the World: We Are Legion

    Storyville: Documentary that goes inside the complex network and history of Anonymous, the radical online ‘hacktivist’ collective. Through interviews with current members – some recently returned from prison, others still awaiting trial – as well as writers, academics and major players in various ‘raids’, the film traces the collective’s breathtaking evolution from merry pranksters to a full-blown global movement, one armed with new weapons of civil disobedience for an online world.

    In recent years, Anonymous has been associated with attacks or ‘raids’ on hundreds of targets. Angered by issues as diverse as copyright abuse and police brutality, they have also taken on targets such as the Church of Scientology.

  • craig Post author

    Having gone back down memory lane, I should mention Terry Curran and Tony Gooch in the context of trying to help Oscar Mpetha, and also to recall that I was taught by people for whom the idea that you used your position to try to do good was a given.

  • Anon

    OT – Should add Assange/Wikileaks first section mentioned above is about 35 minutes in for those pushed for time. The BBC blurb does mention that it interviews people awaiting trial What it doesn’t say is that these people are awaiting trial for Wikileaks related actions. Although that’s clear in the documentary itself.

  • Villager

    Uzbek In The UK, he didn’t kill her because she was black.

    He may not even be free because he’s white, but because people who are celebrities and have bags of money can get away with murder. Its the same everywhere; apparently even in South Africa.

  • John Goss

    Eddie G, I agree that much of what you say is right, it is money that does the talking, not justice. Evil beings like Craig Williamson, Eeben Barlow, other Executive Outcomes’ personnel and Mark Thatcher are walking around like free men, when collectively they have organised countless assassinations and bombings, including those of Olaf Palme and probably of Bernt Carlsson on Lockerbie flight Pan Am 103, plus the planned overthrow of Equatorial Guinea and so on. Even Simon ‘I am not the main man’ Mann spent less time in prison than English Muslims who were never charged with any crime. There is justice for the poor, and a different kind of justice for the rich.

  • Anon

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21554311

    UK’s AAA credit rating cut to Aa1 by Moody’s

    The UK has had its top AAA credit rating cut by Moody’s, based on its expectation that growth will “remain sluggish over the next few years”.

    The ratings agency became the first to lower the UK from its highest rating, to Aa1.

    Moody’s said that the country’s debt reduction programme faced “challenges” ahead and the UK’s huge debts were unlikely to reverse until 2016.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Don’t forget Steven Biko, Craig. As to the current state of racial animus in SA, the US has been recalcitrant in some regions (Southeast) to accept the forward push to equality. SA has made significant gains the last twenty-or-so years.

  • Indigo

    The more unequal a society the more unequal the justice meeted out to its different categories of citizens whether that be a function of race … or class … or religion … or gender (to name but four) is of little import.

    Inequality – and unequal justice – exists in all societies in greater or lesser measure.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Craig,
    I have known South Africans of many ethnicities and wonder sometimes about the human species.
    I recall, in my post grad studies, when I settled on a career in law, being in the college cafeteria. Adriane was a white South African and we started talking and then the conversation got round to Apartheid. It went something like this:-
    Courtenay (C ) : But Adriane, surely you can’t be suggesting that Apartheid is right?
    Adriane ( A): You don’t understand Courtenay – the Africans are stupid.
    C. Well Adriane, I am of African descent – am I stupid?
    A. No – I don’t mean you.
    C. So?
    A. They are just stupid – they can’t learn.
    C. So – do the majority have the same opportunities and privileges that you have had, that I have had – by way of education and financial assistance?
    …need not take that exchange further, but it was one of those exchanges that somehow even these 35 plus years on just stuck in my head ( thick as Adriane may have impliedly thought it was).
    Then there was my Jamaican scientist friend who lectured in France and then went over to South Africa to work at a University and train PhD. students. He said to me – South Africa under Apartheid had the best socialist system in the world. I asked him how he could say such a ridiculous thing. His reply was that once you were white – the socialist benefits flowed your way.
    And Craig you observe – “In 1983 he was convicted of terrorism and of inciting a riot at a squatter camp in August 1980 during which two whites were killed”
    I am presently giving some legal assistance to a white South African on a legal matter. I marveled at the tales I heard then in my student days, and even now as I get to know another client and hear the tales of what humans did to humans under the guise of “race” I really sometimes wonder about the human race.

    Footnote: Back at you Craig:-

    ” The existence of a wealthy highly corrupt black elite doesn’t mean racial advantage has been eliminated in South Africa”

    I think that it went a bit this way:-

    A. Give the black politicos and their cronies a big enough slice of the economic pie.
    B. Keep the lion’s share for the tradional holders of economic power.
    C. Let the blacks in large measure continue with the skewed ecocomic distribution and black and white elites remain contented ( more or less).

    Someone with first hand experience of contempoary South Africa come back with a should of a big “bollocks” – no – even bigger “BOLLOCKS” – AND LET THE REAL DEBATE BEGIN!

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Ben Franklin.

    You are the clever one:-

    Come on…tell us all:-

    “Wat is verby verby”

    Then get back to my original point:-

    ” SA has made significant gains the last twenty-or-so years.”

    Tell us what you know….

  • Indigo

    @Courtenay Barnett

    Can’t speak of present day SA having only had experience of it in 1989 – left me truly traumatised!

    Was friendly with the SA Argus newspaper London correspondent and his wife who, after they’d moved back and knowing my political tendencies and interests, asked me to come over for a visit “to see it for myself before it changed”. I went with my youngest son – 8 years old – for a month and travelled extensively, even living on an Africaans farm in Orange Free State for ten days. I was a photographer at the time and wanted to mount an exhibition (with text) on my return.

    I had many conversations like yours above and managed to shut one person up by pointing out that the majority of black South Africans spoke at least three, and often more, languages. Scarcely a sign of stupidity.

    But predjudice and bigotry was – to me – often found in the strangest of places; Cape Indians, for example I generally found to be incredibly racist in their attitudes to black South Africans.

    And one thing that’s never mentioned … it was the most sexist society that I’ve ever experienced. There was I, a single woman travelling alone with a child and the very first words uttered by every single person I met on being introduced to them were, “Where’s your husband?” I eventually got so fed up with it I told them why he wasn’t with me … “because he’s Jamaican!”

    My son inherited my Celtic skin!

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Indigo,

    I understand.

    What can I say?

    Ol’ Ben Franklin ducks out and I am here really trying to go to the heart from the head and in reverse, the head from the heart.

    WOW – makes me “verby” does it.

    Come on – let us have a serious debate about the kinds of things that affect and impact us all as human beings.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Courtenay; What is it you are looking for? Spell it out. I happen to think the progressive human spirit is sufficient when it overcomes obstacles. Time is a requisite ingredient for real change.

    Case in point; although biological….In 2002 I needed to lose about 70 pounds of excessive protoplasm. I could have undertaken a fad diet and lost it quickly; only to regain because I had not changed my lifestyle. I could have lost it quickly and dealt with the sagging flesh, only to have it inflated to full psi. I chose to lose it slowly (2-3 lbs per month) so that I established a baseline of rectitude and permanent change. Humans change slowly. The US didn’t establish voting rights of Afro/Americans until 1964…100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Still there are pockets of resistance to equality in the south eastern US. The Confederate Flag still flies on the same pole as the US flag in some states. It is a slow process. Changing human opinion, attitudes and beliefs takes a while. Instant change is impossible. Now, what is your beef?

  • Indigo

    @Courtenay Barnett

    I wish I knew what it was like now … I would expect that it’s not dissimilar to Jamaican society around 100+ years ago – the evolution of the society post slavery into a society of haves and have-nots with even the poorest of the whites keeping the status already earned on the back of their skin colour.

    Come on, someone, put me right!

  • Indigo

    @Courtenay Barnett

    … our gender … our identity … our upbrigning … our education … our experiences … our culture.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Ben Franklin,

    Thanks for your frank response.

    I said to you – and repeated your statement – twice:-

    ” SA has made significant gains the last twenty-or-so years.”

    Tell us what you know….

    So – Q. Courtenay; What is it you are looking for? Spell it out.
    A. I did – twice over.

    You said: “Changing human opinion, attitudes and beliefs takes a while. Instant change is impossible. Now,…

    what is your beef?”

    I ought not to be typecast as having a “beef”. I am inviting conversation and a discourse. You gave a reasoned and sensible answer.

    Thanks and – cheers!

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Courtenay; ”Wat is verby verby”

    What is past, is past. Wise words from a sagacious leader.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Indigo,

    “I would expect that it’s not dissimilar to Jamaican society around 100+ years ago..”

    The processes of so-called development – I believe work something like this:-

    A. The golden rule of international wealth creation: he who has the guns will get the gold and get rich.

    B. Those who do not have gold will not have to face the guns.

    C. Those who have the gold and not sufficient guns – then be prepared to lose the gold.

    Now – face forward in this way – slavery – exploitation – capital accumulation – then now black gold. Why do you think that the US is so focused in its foreign policy on oil rich countries in the world? In a figurative way of speaking – those countries of special concern have the “gold” – “black gold”.

    I see the global processes that way. But then again you say:-

    ” … our gender … our identity … our upbringing … our education … our experiences … our culture.”

    Indeed and then we weld them all together and try to embrace our “humanity”.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Courtenay;

    ‘Gold’ whether black, or precious metal, is almost nearly, past. Water is the new oil. Look there first, in these times.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Indigo,

    ” I wish I knew what it was like now … I would expect that it’s not dissimilar to Jamaican society around 100+ years ago – the evolution of the society post slavery into a society of haves and have-nots with even the poorest of the whites keeping the status already earned on the back of their skin colour.

    Come on, someone, put me right!”

    As Malachy Postlethwayt, a political economist, frankly and honestly wrote in 1745: “British trade is a magnificent superstructure of American commerce and naval power on an African foundation.”

    And if I were to be a little mischievous here:-

    “… earned on the back of their skin colour.” ?

    Surely – lack of skin colour…huh?

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Ben Franklin,

    ” Courtenay; ”Wat is verby verby”

    What is past, is past. Wise words from a sagacious leader.”

    Ha! history is bunk and the past has no connection with the present. Yeah! sure.

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