South Africa

Getting away with murder this Easter

By Richard Poplak 28 March 2013

Thursday was a good day to be a murder-accused in South Africa. Oscar Pistorius is once again allowed to travel, drink and maybe accidentally shoot up trendy boites, and the seven policemen accused of plugging Andries Tatane with rubber bullets are celebrating Easter wherever cops celebrate Easter, which is not, apparently, in a jail cell. Considering killing someone this long weekend? Here are some handy tips to keep the fallout from inconveniencing your life. By RICHARD POPLAK.

Wear a helmet

If you’re planning on gunning someone down, a good bet is to wear something to obscure your features. You may have heard about DNA tests and forensics evidence. You may have watched CSI: Bloemfontein and thought, “There’s nothing that these cops can’t figure out these days.” So much as lose an eyelash, and you’re doomed, right?

Nope. In the antediluvian state of South African investigative detecting, all you need is a cover for your face. It doesn’t matter whether the bullets discharged at the “victim” (and aren’t we all victims?) came from your weapon. If you wear a helmet, you’re in the clear. Also good: balaclavas, clown noses, lipstick, fake lashes, your wife’s stockings.

Get caught on videotape

This sounds counterintuitive. But it’s a proven fact: the more people eyeball your murdering ways – the more your misdeeds are disseminated on the interwebs and passed around by outraged netizens who put a hashtag next to your name and Twit angry Tweets about you – the less likely you are to end up in jail. Should you be caught on a cellphone camera committing murder and wearing a helmet, don’t bother hiring a lawyer. Congrats! You’re walking, champ.

Make sure that you’re the main witness for the prosecution. And the defence.

Wouldn’t it be great if you were the star of your own murder trial, and didn’t have to share the stage with pesky witnesses, pathologists, psychiatrists, cops, etcetera? Just you and your extended 15 minutes of fame. Imagine that your testimony counts as the main pillar of the prosecution’s case, and the defence’s case. Watch the lawyers fall over themselves in confusion. When it comes to the trial, merely forget what you said, claim you were coerced, lie a little, and drool a lot. You got yourself into this mess, and you just got yourself out of it. Bingo!

Keep your friends close

This tactic builds on the previous tip, and while it means sharing the limelight (boo!), it means almost certainly never seeing the inside of a jail cell (cheer!) If you’re one of a bunch of accused murderers – a deadly NSYNC, if you will – make sure you and your comrades get your stories straight, which is to say, don’t get your stories straight. Fumble around with the facts, be vague, give conflicting testimonies, share helmets. By the time you get to trial, even you won’t remember what happened anymore. That’s when you know you’ll be spending Easter at your local pub.

Count on short memories

Who can forget the indelible images of the good people of Ficksburg rising up in anger after one of their own was roughed up and shot by the police? The answer to that question is – the good people of Ficksburg! Should your trial go on long enough – and by all means, make sure your lawyers employ the stretch-it-’til-it-breaks tactic – the people who were once so outraged at your alleged crime will almost certainly have forgotten to care whether or not you committed it in the first place. If you don’t have a mantra, adopt this one: “Postpone!”

Every witness has a price

This is especially true if the witnesses live in a community you happen to police. It’s amazing how forgetful they become under cross-examination, especially if you’ve had time to deliver them a friendly reminder of your status before they reach the dock. Indeed, witnesses are to be hugged close to the bosom. They’re your best friends. Treat them proper, (plastic bag over the head and stuff like that) and watch them bungle it for the prosecution on the big stage.

Have the prosecution be folks that, on paper, you represent

When the people going after you have a vested interest in your eventual innocence –in other words, if your guilt looks bad on them – there’s every chance the case they mount will resemble a pre-school theatrical adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird. This can only mean good things for your weekend plans, so don’t cancel any of the fun stuff.

Don’t be poor or powerless when you kill

For God’s sake, sock some cash away, get somewhere in life, run a race or two, or parastatal, become famous – be somebody! – before you decide to commit your dastardly act of murder. In South Africa, killing is not for the poor or the powerless, my friend – it’s a rich man’s entertainment. If you don’t happen to be flush, make sure the institution in whose name you kill for happens to have a vested interest in the outcome of the case. Killing, like jet boating and flying business, is for society’s upper crust. It’s a Hermes handbag, a pair of Ray Bans, a lekker pair of Jordache jeans. Wear it well. And have a fantastic, bloody, murderous Easter. DM

Photo: Easter eggs are seen at an Easter market in the western Austrian city of Innsbruck April 19, 2011. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler

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