Michell Burger, a neighbour of Oscar Pistorius

Former Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius is on trial accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, though he claims he mistook her for an intruder and shot her by accident.

Pistorius's defensive claim relies heavily on the stereotype of the respectable middle class white man's fear of a black intruder who will steal, rape and kill. The learned response is to bear arms with extreme prejudice - and this was the cause of his girlfriend's death. 

Imagine for a moment if Pistorius were black, however. Would he still be eligible for the benefit of doubt In a country where Apartheid is still echoing in many Afrikaners' lives and racial equality is still something of a utopian dream state?

According to journalist Margie Orford: "The figure of the threatening black stranger has driven many South Africans into fortress-like housing estates, surrounded by electric fences, armed guards and the relentless surveillance of security cameras.

"This figure is the reason almost every middle-class home has a panic button on both sides of the double bed in the master bedroom, a red button that will summons armed guards to the house within minutes."

Filmmaker and writer Gillian Schutte described South Africa as a "world in which to be black and male makes you vulnerable to random shootings in suburban settings, where it seems, any black male is a potential threat."

Is Pistorius, then, leveraging on a widespread fear of swart gevaar (Afrikaans for black threat) to make his crime more excusable?

In recent years, many fear that revenge attacks against white South Africans could be carried out. A black man who intrudes in a white man's mansion becomes, therefore, the perfect scape goat.

Racism South Africa

In South Africa, even after 20 years the end of racial segregation, white people live in rich farms while hundreds of black families are still in hovels, and 59% of South Africans believe that integration is impossible. 

In a place still governed by racist stereotypes and institutionalised  inequality; where corrupt police can carry out mass-murder, as in the case of Marikana, or stage public tortures, as in the case of Mido Marcia who died after being dragged by a police car, what sort of justice can be expected.

What are the chances of a white multi-millionaire Olympic runner – once considered a hero - to be jailed over the "accidental" shooting of his girlfriend?