Instead of relying on a jury of peers, the South African justice system makes provision for assessors. They are highly skilled, legally trained people selected by the judge, if he or she feels the need. In the Oscar Pistorius trial, there are two assessors, who may overrule the judge on a verdict when it comes to the facts of the case.
The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius is setting a precedent when it comes to press coverage of a criminal trial: never before has there been such interest in a court matter in South Africa. That reporters are allowed to live tweet from court, that cameras are allowed to film in the court building are big steps towards a more transparent, freer media.
The trial of Oscar Pistorius is precedent-setting, not least for the amount of international attention it is getting. On a real and practical level, it offers the space for the media and the justice system to redefine the margins of what is, and what is not permissible.
Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius' murder trial, set to start on Monday 3 March, is a landmark case for the media. A groundbreaking court ruling makes it the first time in South African history a criminal trial will be broadcast live on TV, instantly streamed via audio apps, and live-tweeted to the world.
April 2014 will mark half a century since Nelson Mandela, on trial for his opposition to apartheid and facing the very real prospect of execution, took to the stand for four hours to deliver his famous Rivonia Trial speech, in which he declared he would prefer to live, but was prepared to die for a free South Africa.