Jean-Jacques Cornish

Oscar Pistorius trial takes a mental turn

The murder trial of paralympian star Oscar Pistorius will hear today (Wednesday) if he is to be sent for examination at a mental institution.

The judge in the case will rule today on a prosecution application for the process following evidence by a psychiatrist for the defence that Pistorius suffers from generalised anxiety disorder.

Defence counsel for Oscar Pistorius,  Barry Roux argues that in seeking an examination, the state is merely trying to get a psychiatric opinion that it did not produce during the prosecution evidence.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel counters that the court does not have discretion in the matter and that Judge Thokozile Masipa is obliged to grant his application.

If Masipa does this, Pistorius will face 30 days in an institution being observed around the clock by specialist nurses and social workers and examined by psychiatrists appointed by both the state and the defence.

Their finding wouldn’t impact on the court’s ability to convict Pistorius who is not claiming diminished responsibility in the shooting of his lover Reeva Steenkamp at his home on Valentine’s Day last year.

He maintains he fired into the bathroom where she was believing she was an intruder.

If an examination finds no anxiety disorder, Pistorius’ defence that he acted out of fear would be severely compromised.

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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.