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As I write, hearings are going on for a famous person from South Africa accused of murder or premeditated murder, depending on reports.

What leaves me amazed is the amount of emotion that ordinary people have against Oscar Pistorius. We do not even know the facts of the case yet. But that doesn’t seem to stop the international keyboard judiciary from passing a guilty verdict — based on nothing.

As some have commented, ‘Gosh, I hope you never serve on a jury!’

It’s clear many Americans neither know nor care who the Olympian/Paralympian is. The rest of us were sorry and shocked to read that his girlfriend died from gunshot wounds.  My sympathies to the Steenkamp family; Reeva seemed like a lovely young woman with a brilliant future.

There are many questions which need to be resolved factually and calmly: why an immediate charge of murder instead of manslaughter? How was it that the young woman’s body could be cremated so quickly? How was it that the couple had not met each other’s family? What really happened in the early hours of that fateful morning? Oddly, everyone seems to know all the details, which are, frankly, little more than conjecture at this stage.

We can blame only an emotional society for this scenario, not too different from mob madness during the week following Princess Diana’s tragic death. Measured mourning is one thing; verbal attacks and screaming quite another.

In Pistorius’s case, it is a mystery as to how Britons can get so revved up about two people they will never know. Yet, they’re talking about them as if they were next door neighbours.

I pray this was a tragic accident. Whatever the case, I hope that Pistorius gets a fair trial with facts and circumstances presented fully by both sides, impartially judged.

Right now, as others have said, it seems as if it is trial by media.

Emotion can be a dangerous thing. People today have a lofty view of sentimentality. I can think only of what English columnist Matthew Parris wrote in The Spectator (UK weekly) shortly after the late Princess of Wales’s death, ‘A sentimental people is a cruel people’.

How true. Let’s rein ourselves in and let justice take its course.

UPDATE: Another reason to dial down the emotion is the news that Hilton Botha, the chief investigator who had been conducting the enquiry of Pistorius’s case, is himself accused of serious crime: attempted murder in 2009 when driving drunk and firing at a minibus with seven people inside when its driver refused to stop. (In his case, however, no one was hurt.) Botha’s case will be heard in May 2013. I understand from RTL news that Botha has now been replaced as chief investigator.

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