Jean-Jacques Cornish

Oscar Pistorius begins psychiatric evaluation

The murder trial of Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius has taken on a new guise with the Olympic athlete travelling to a psychiatric hospital west of Pretoria every weekday for the next month.

He’s being evaluated by a team of psychologists and psychiatrists to determine if he had a mental disorder when he shot dead is lover Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year.

To hide from the  media swarming outside the Weskoppies Psychiatric hospital, Oscar Pistorius arrives in a vehicle with smoked glass windows.

There’s criticism of his being treated as an outpatient.

Some experts say 24-hour observation would allow nursing staff to get additional insights into a patient’s mental state that complement formal questioning and other tests during the day.

Judge Thokkozile Masipa asked for this be arranged because she doesn’t want to the evaluation to be punitive.

The accused arrives at nine am and may leave at four pm.

He has weekends off.

Masipa’s asked the hospital to determine if Pistorius had a mental disorder at the time of the shooting, which could affect whether he should be held criminally responsible.

Her instruction follows a psychiatrist’s testimony that Pistorius has an anxiety disorder that could have contributed to his shooting Steenkamp.

She was responding to a prosecution request for an independent inquiry, based on concern the defence would argue Pistorius was not guilty because of mental illness.

Enquire about availability for radio, podcasts, reporting or opinion pieces.

Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.