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Pistorius will get fair trial, says lawyer who taught judge

March 3rd, 2014
03:09 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Oscar Pistorius, South African Olympian facing murder charges over the death of his girlfriend, will get a fair trial, Mannie Witz, a lawyer who served as teacher to the judge in the case, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

“I think it’s very, very important – not only to South Africa, but also for the whole world – to see that we’ve got a very, very good justice system,” Witz said from Pretoria, where Pistorius’ trial began Monday.

Pistorius faces one charge of premeditated murder and a firearms charge associated with Steenkamp's killing, as well as two separate gun indictments from 2012.

“Knowing the judge in this particular matter, I think that should ensure that he does get a fair trial,” Witz said. “She follows the rules, she follows the procedure, and I’ve got no doubt that in regards to all the parties – they’re very experienced, they’re very, very well-versed experienced.”


The trial of Oscar PIstorius

Christiane Amanpour speaks with South African lawyer Mannie Witz about the trail of Oscar Pistorius.

Click above to watch Amanpour’s full interview with Witz.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • South Africa

The end of innocence: Photojournalist documents child sexual abuse

February 26th, 2014
10:02 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

It is hard to imagine – a three-year-old girl being raped. It is even harder to fathom the rapists being children themselves.

But in South Africa, not only is this crime shockingly common, it may be on the rise.

45% of rapes reported to the police in South Africa are child rapes, and 50% of South Africa’s children will be abused before the age of 18, according to South Africa’s Tears Foundation and the Medical Research Council.

For over a decade, photographer Mariella Furrer has worked to document these crimes with powerful photos and accompanying narratives.

She has compiled her work into a nearly 700-page book, “My Piece of Sky.”

Click here to see Furrer’s photos in large format

“Most child sexual abuse is unreported,” she told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday. “The most important thing about this body of work really is to try to get people to speak out about their abuse – to have the courage to speak out about it, because there’s a lot of shame and guilt attached to it.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • South Africa

End of innocence: Photos of child sexual abuse in South Africa

February 25th, 2014
02:25 PM ET

Rape is notoriously prevalent in South Africa, but the greatest increase in sexual crimes there has been against infants and children under the age of seven.

Photographer Mariella Furrer has been documenting this shocking story for over a decade, and has compiled her powerful photographs into a new book, "My Piece of Sky."

Furrer spoke with CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday about her work; their conversation will be online on Wednesday.

Click here to see Furrer's photos in large format.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • South Africa

South Africa’s failed political marriage

February 4th, 2014
03:34 PM ET

South African political merger ends

CNN's Christiane Amanpour speaks to Agang SA's Mamphela Ramphele about the state of opposition politics on South Africa.


Mazibuko: 'Divorce' leaves DA bruised

Christiane Amanpour speaks to the DA's Lindiwe Mazibuko the likelihood of opposition parties working together again.

The ANC has dominated politics in South Africa since the fall of Apartheid; and now, a bright new future for the South African opposition has come and gone with breath taking speed.

Today was supposed to be the day two opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance and Agang SA embarked on their joint campaign, called ‘Together for Change’. Just last week the two party leaders, Dr Mamphela Ramphele and Helen Zille, announced a merger that sent a shiver of excitement throughout the nation.

But yesterday the excitement turned to dismay as these two old friends announced the deal was off. The move not only raises questions about the health of South African democracy but about the future of these two formidable women who head the parties.

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour spoke to the head of Agang SA and to the DA’s parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko. Both parties admit they have made mistakes, and they agree that the only winner right now is the ANC.

Amanpour spoke first to Dr Ramphele, an anti-apartheid activist, successful businesswoman, former World Bank official and partner of the late freedom fighter Steve Biko. Dr Ramphele says she “takes blame” for not coming to an agreement, but that “leaders have to listen to their members” and that she “cannot bind Agang to a merger with the DA without consulting with the national leadership council.”

As for the DA, Mazibuko told Amanpour her party is “very bruised” by the fall out, and that they will “not pursue negotiations with Agang again”.

Click above to watch both interviews.

Filed under:  South Africa

Mandela rises again

December 16th, 2013
03:02 PM ET

By Lucky Gold, CNN

Imagine a world where a great leader is laid to rest one day, only to rise again the next.

No, it's not a bible story.

It took place today in South Africa, after Nelson Mandela was buried in his ancestral village of Qunu on Sunday, carried to his grave in a flag draped coffin, as helicopters flew in tribute overhead.

And today, a giant bronze statue to this giant of a man who conquered apartheid was unveiled in Pretoria in front of the Union Buildings, the seat of government, where he delivered his inaugural address as South Africa's first black president – and first democratically elected president – back in 1994.

The statue had long been planned to celebrate these 20-years of democracy.


South Africa apartheid hearings were a ‘pressure valve,’ says lawyer

December 11th, 2013
09:53 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Nelson Mandela’s death has forced South Africa to reflect once again on its ugly past, and what it took to move beyond it.

A key part of that process, after the fall of apartheid, was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which held hearings for more than two years on the horrors of the policy.

It was “a pressure valve, a safety valve, at a moment in our country where you couldn't turn away,” Paul van Zyl, a human rights lawyer who was executive secretary of the Commission, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“You couldn't sweep the past under a carpet; you had to give people a chance to tell their stories.”

But those hearings, he said, were not – and could not have been – like the Nuremberg trials after World War II that convicted individual Nazis of the most heinous crimes.

“We didn't have the vanquishments of the Germans after World War II,” he said. “We had a negotiated settlement.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • South Africa

South Africans mourn and celebrate Mandela’s life

December 11th, 2013
06:37 AM ET

In Johannesburg’s massive soccer stadium, outside Mandela’s home, and across South Africa, people are coming together to mourn and celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela.

Khehla Shebane, former CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, joins Christiane Amanpour to talk about the mood, and Mandela’s legacy.

Click above to see their conversation.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • South Africa

Idris Elba on playing Mandela: I wanted to do an ‘interpretation’ not an ‘impression’

December 10th, 2013
04:23 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

When Idris Elba was cast as Nelson Mandela, he decided he was not going to try to do an impersonation of the revered South African president.

“It’s a big ask for the audience to watch myself play Mandela,” Elba told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday. “I don’t look anything like Mandela; I’m considerably younger than the older Mandela.”

“So it was important that I didn’t do an impersonation of any actor, or Mandela himself, but sort of an interpretation.”

He purposefully did not watch previous portrayals of Mandela, like Morgan Freeman’s performance in 2009’s “Invictus,” lest he be influenced by them.

Elba, most famous for his roles in the TV series “The Wire” and “Luther,” stars in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” a biopic based on the autobiography.

It has set box office records in South Africa; it had its premiere in London last week on the very night Mandela died.

Indeed, Elba and a producer on the film, Anant Singh, were forced to announce Mandela’s passing to the audience just after the credits had rolled.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • South Africa

Francois Pienaar on seeing Mandela wearing his Springbok rugby jersey: ‘I bit my lip so hard. I wanted to cry.’

December 10th, 2013
03:13 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

When former South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar was getting ready to attend Nelson Mandela’s memorial on Tuesday, his sons – godchildren to Mandela – told him there was only one thing he could wear: His team jacket.

“They said, ‘Dad, you’ve got to wear this,’” Pienaar told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and Anderson Cooper. “Because if it wasn’t for Mister Mandela this emblem” – he pointed to the crest over his breast – “would not have survived.”

In 1995, Pienaar was the white captain of the Springboks, the national rugby team whose base of support had always been white South Africans.

Mandela publicly put his weight behind the team in their World Cup run. They would win that year, and when they did, Mandela – the black president – strode into the stadium full of white supporters wearing Pienaar’s #6 jersey.

The story was the subject of the 2009 movie “Invictus,” starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.

“In the years of apartheid rugby was a hated sport,” Pienaar said. “Mr. Mandela, when he came out of prison, against the wishes of the ANC, actually said to them, ‘These are our boys. You know, they are playing for us. We have to embrace them.’”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • South Africa

Cameron: As example for leaders, Mandela has no parallel

December 10th, 2013
03:10 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Nelson Mandela set an example for leaders, his people, and the world that “doesn’t have a parallel,” British Prime Minister David Cameron told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour at the Johannesburg stadium where world leaders gathered to memorialize the late South African president.

“The people of South Africa – indeed all of Africa – in Mandela have an immense icon, who I think will be looking down at them in the future, and they’ll be looking up to him and hopefully emulating and treasuring his memory.”

It is, he said, “rather like in British politics.”

“When you have, you know, massive figures like Winston Churchill that have sat in the chair that you now sit in, it doesn’t mean sadly that you’re automatically like them, but it does mean that you’ve got heroes to try and live up to.”


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