Disabled people have slammed the lawyers representing Oscar Pistorius for parading him on his stumps in court in a bid to keep him out of jail.
The world watched in amazement on Wednesday as the paralympian took off his prosthetic legs and tottered across a packed courtroom at the North Gauteng High Court.
Pistorius, red-faced and sobbing, walked in a grey T-shirt and black tights, at one point being assisted by an elderly woman.
This was on the instructions of his lawyer, Barry Roux, as he tried to show the court how vulnerable the convicted murderer was without his false limbs.
“I’m told he’s very embarrassed to do that, but he knows it’s important,” said Roux.
“I don’t want to overplay disability but the time has come that we must just look with different eyes.
“This is the person … that you have to sentence.”
The Blade Runner faces a possible 15 years in prison for murder at the end of sentencing procedures for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Now Disabled People South Africa has condemned the act, saying all it achieved was to make Pistorius look pathetic.
The organisation’s Gillian Moses says: “It’s very humiliating that they have done that to a disabled person, we condemn that kind of treatment to any person living with disability.
“I don’t know the reasons for doing that, be it to get sympathy, but as Disabled People SA we don’t like this ‘ag shame’ mentality, we want to be treated with dignity, Oscar included.”
Ashley Willis, 43, a paraplegic Cape Flats man who spends his days on a wheelchair-bed, says he was very upset by what he saw.
The Mitchells Plain man lost his legs 20 years ago after he was shot five times in broad daylight while he was working as a security guard at a school in Lentegeur.
“It was like they were degrading him, how would anyone feel if they were asked to take off their pants and walk on their knees in front of the whole world?” he asks.
“I cannot say what his lawyer was thinking but we as disabled people hate the pity word.
“We are human beings, I feel sorry for Oscar, I feel his pain. Of course, there are a lot of people with disabilities in prison, but everyone’s situation is different.”
The incident also sparked a debate on social media, where the hashtag #OscarPistorius trended.
Pistorius will hear his fate on July 6.