African press review 15 February 2013

African newspapers are reporting on the murder charge against South African athlete Oscar Pistorius, Kenya's upcoming elections, and a Nigerian civil servant accused of corruption.


We begin in South Africa where there is intense coverage of the Olympian and Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, who is accused of shooting dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s day. Early reports said Pistorius told police he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.


The Mail & Guardian leads with: "Nike Bullet ad removed from Pistorius' website." The sport brand is one of the Paralympian's five major sponsorship deals. The Nike ad, featuring the tagline: "I am the bullet in the chamber", has now been removed from his official website. The paper writes the sportswear brand "declined to comment on its future relationship with Pistorius." Nike South Africa is quoted as saying: "This is a police matter and is under investigation," adding the company has extended condolences to everyone affected by the event. It also writes Pistorius is likely to receive extra medical assistance to help him cope with his physical disability. The Mail and Guardian notes that South Africa is struggling to make its courts and prisons disabled friendly.

Meanwhile, The Star looks at Pistorius’ history with guns. It refers back to an interview with the New York Times where the Blade Runner "fetched his 9mm handgun and two boxes of ammunition and drove his interviewers to a nearby shooting range, where he instructed the reporter on proper technique." Pistorius was, apparently, “a good coach”. He also told the journalist he goes to the gun range when he struggles to sleep.

The Star also quotes the British tabloid The Daily Mail which reported that at his home last year, at the height of pre-2012 Olympic fever, a pistol was by his bed and a machine gun was propped up by a window. A difficult fall for someone who once received so much praise.

In Kenya, The Daily Nation reports the deputy Prime Minister and presidential candidate of the Jubilee Alliance, Uhuru Kenyatta, and his running mate, William Ruto, want “to attend of the sessions of [their] trial at the International Criminal Court through a video link." It comes after their legal teams joined lawyers of the former head of the Civil Service to request the beginning of the trial be pushed back until at least April. The pair are among a number of people accused of committing crimes against humanity during post election violence between 2007 and 2008. The Daily Nation explains that Kenyatta's political opponents have "questioned how he plans to run the government while standing trial if he wins the March 4 presidential elections". The Standard, meanwhile, leads with: "Uhuru Ruto strategy to delay trials." It writes that some of the co-accused feel that the prosecution "was supplying them with large volumes of new material and fresh evidence that had not been used during the pre-trial.”

Over in Nigeria, The Punch reports president Goodluck Jonathan can't seem to sack the chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina. He is said to be on the run after he was accused of corruption, and the newspaper reports he still has police guarding him. President Jonathan's special adviser on Media and Publicity says that, as a civil servant, Maina's fate can only be decided by the civil servant procedure. Inevitably this has cause a lot of anger. The Nigerian president has been asked to choose between the Senate and Maina. A member of the Anti- Corruption Coalition of Nigeria tells the paper that Goodluck Jonathan's government has "gone from being a weak government to a mean one".


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