Nel shares hurdles in preparing for Pistorius trial

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State Prosecutor Gerrie Nel has shared some of the legal hurdles he faces in preparing the state’s appeal in the Oscar Pistorius trial. Nel addressed law students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is currently awaiting a possible court date this year. Students packed the venue where Nel was to address third years.

The state’s lead Prosecutor showed his gentle and humorous side; very different from the man dubbed the “Bull dog” who gave Pistorius a ferocious grilling during his murder trial in 2014.

The court allowed the NPA to appeal the acquittal on the charge of murder but denied it leave to appeal the five year sentence for culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp. Nel spoke about the case they now have to present.

“We must show the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) that we are dealing with the principles of law and we are not dealing with a question of fact disguised as a case of law.”

Nel said he has great respect for Defence Advocate Barry Roux

Responding to questions from the students, Nel said he decided earlier on a career as a Prosecutor who wanted to fight for justice for victims of crime.

Nel also successfully prosecuted former Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi and was a junior Prosecutor in the Chris Hani murder trial of Janus Wallus and Clive Derby-Lewis.

He said he has great respect for Defence Advocate Barry Roux. “Yes I will braai with him. He is good; I am glad he was on the case.”

Students were pleased with his presentation. “It was good to hear from him. He explained about the legal issues in the appeal. We are doing criminal law in the next semester so it helped a lot,” says one of the students.

Although the prosecution had opposed the broadcast of the Pistorius trial at first, Nel said it has done a great job in educating people about the courts and the law. His own court performance was no doubt an inspiration to the young aspiring legal minds.

– By Reneé Heine