I WAS, until very recently, unaware of the existence of Return on Innovation (ROI), a global intelligence organisation that monitors news and social media. However, the surprise appearance of the self-confessed hitman Mikey Schultz at the Oscar Pretorius trial on Thursday changed all that.
Schultz is a fearsome individual, the sort of person you'd imagine who overdosed on steroids as a child and was now forever enraged, punching out complete strangers for no reason other than they looked pathetic. Even if you didn't know of his role in the "assisted suicide" of mining magnate Brett Kebble in 2005 - he did the shooting - you'd want to stay well clear of him.
Anyway, Schultz barged into court, telling reporters he was there to support the family of the athlete's slain girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, and allegedly mouthed "F-- you!" to Pistorius's sister, Aimee, causing her to burst into tears.
Schultz later denied this. "That did not happen," he told a radio station. "The Pistorius family are all liars. They (are) the victims once again. The Pistoriuses are clearly a bunch of liars along with Oscar. I did not threaten anybody in court. I came in, I had a seat, I don't know where the allegations come from - they can go back and look at the video footage." Such lamb-like innocence.
Asked why Aimee Pistorius was crying, he said maybe it was because "she realised her brother was going to jail." One caller who was perhaps of the opinion that Schultz should have been there already asked him, "How do you feel as a murderer? You are a disgrace!" Shultz replied on air, "Go f-- yourself."
The world, it seems, really does love a lippy psycho with a neat turn of phrase and ROI duly issued a statement to the effect that, with his charm offensive, Shultz had stolen a "whopping" 30 per cent of Pistorius's usual media and social network coverage in just 24 hours.
It was, in fact, so "whopping", the scientific term used by ROI Africa MD Tonya Khoury, that it all but overshadowed the rest of the statement - which said that by "an enormous majority", social networks across the globe were calling for jail time for Pistorius.
According to ROI, 65.5 per cent of people wanted him to go to prison while the rest wanted him smothered in monkey gland sauce and thrown into a pit of starving lions.
Actually, no, that's not true. The rest of those social networkers wanted Pistorius to be placed under some form of house arrest, do community service, or be fined.
It was just the South Africans who wanted him hurt. Perhaps it has something to do with rampant crime, thieving politicians and a seemingly useless police force, but we have a great fear that wrongdoers, even when caught, may "get away with it".
But it is dismaying all the same, this baying for the head of each and every miscreant that lands up in court. As Friedrich Nietzsche put it, "Mistrust all in whom the urge to punish is powerful. They are people of a low sort and stock; the hangman and the bloodhound look out of their faces."
The Daily Voice, for example, leapt with relish on the Pistorius defence team's suggestion that there was a good chance he would be gang-raped in prison. "Pappa wag vir jou Oscar," ran a tasteful front-page headline. ("Daddy's waiting for you.")
Elsewhere, the journalist Jacques Pauw had something of a tantrum on Facebook in which he took issue with writers who demonised Pistorius as an Afrikaner - apparently the worst sort of villain. "He grew up English," Pauw fumed. "His home language is English. He went to English schools. . . So why do they write such utter nonsense? Why don't they check their facts? Is it because the truth doesn't fit their wretched arguments?"
Perhaps the most extraordinary outburst came from Ranjeni Munusamy, a writer well known for loitering outside court buildings. She basically dismissed, in a Daily Maverick column, the entire body of evidence in mitigation as "bullshit". Perhaps she'd forgotten, momentarily, how these things work, and that, following a conviction, the prosecution talks up the crime and the needs of society - ten years, in this case - and the defence then presents evidence that may or may not result in an appropriate sentence.
But that is the task at hand for Judge Thokozile Mazipa. No-one else. The peanut gallery may not be pleased with what happens on Tuesday, but, by and large, it will all be over.
And then we can all focus on this messy Shrien Dewani business.
This article first appeared in the Weekend Argus.
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