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Oscar Pistorius Murder Charge and Violence Against Women in South Africa; Is the Arab Spring Falling Apart?

Aired February 14, 2013 - 15:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

South Africa is reeling from a shock to its national psyche today. The man known around the world as the Blade Runner, the first double amputee to compete in the Olympic Games, Oscar Pistorius, the national hero and sporting star has been charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend, model and law school graduate, Reeve Steenkamp.

Police say she was shot to death at Pistorius' home in this luxurious Pretoria estate, where tall walls are meant to protect against the violence that plagues the country. South African police reveal today that there have been previous incidents of a, quote, "domestic nature" at the champion athlete's home.

Police also tell CNN that Pistorius was arrested back in 2009 for common assault. But the case was thrown out for lack of evidence.

In a country that's sadly become infamous for one of the world's highest crime rates, this comes close on the heels of another brutal assault that's rocking the country, the rape, mutilation and death of a 17-year-old girl not far from Cape Town, which was the focus of our program yesterday when a leading member of the opposition told me the violence is endemic.


LINDIWE MAZIBUKO, MP, SOUTH AFRICA: What we have in South Africa is a broken system, where from start to finish, it's not made clear to citizens and to potential criminals that, if you commit a crime in our country, you will be caught; you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and you will go to prison.


AMANPOUR: And so now South Africans are beginning to cry for their beloved country to change. We go now straight to CNN's Robyn Curnow in Johannesburg.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: -- reaction there to this Pistorius --


CURNOW: -- and you're right. There's a deep sense --

Hi, there. There's a deep sense of sadness, and I think a deep sense of self-reflection here at the moment. This has been, as you mentioned, these two cases just a week apart, very different, very same, you know, at the same time. With Oscar Pistorius, he held a very special place in South Africans' hearts. Many people not really still digesting this information that he shot and killed his girlfriend, allegedly.

Of course, he's facing formal murder charges tomorrow morning in court. What it'll all mean, what exactly happened, was it an accident or was it an incident of domestic violence? We still don't know.

But either way, this is fundamentally made many South Africans question their heroes and also asks those very deep questions about what it means to be a woman in South Africa. And it seems that nobody is safe. If you're a very young, poor woman in Bredasdorp, or you're a wealthy model living in a luxurious estate in Pretoria, just how safe are you?

AMANPOUR: Well, Robyn, precisely to that point -- and you heard what Lindiwe Mazibuko told me yesterday, that it's endemic; there's no sense of accountability, it's impunity run rampant. And today, as you know, because you've been watching it, social media is running wild with all of this story.

And one political commentator, Justice Malala, who's a TV host, he said on his tweet, "Why is rape, murder so high in South Africa?" He says, "Pistorius case reminds how boys socialize. We carry guns, beat women. Violence = being a man."

Do you think that anything that's happened in these recent cases is going to change that? People are protesting; people are calling for a change in culture.

CURNOW: You know, I think that's a good question, Christiane, because, you know, we're both journalists and we see these things over and over again and in a way, you get more and more cynical because you see how things don't change. You know, I've been covering South Africa for more than 15 years.

And unfortunately, I get a sense that nothing has changed. In many ways, women's rights, women's sense of who they are, a sense of their belonging in this society's become more and more alienated. You know, the story of Bredasdorp in particular, where Anene was butchered last week, I spent a number of days in that community.

And I was more than fascinated specifically to speak to the men, to the gangsters, to the people who might have perpetrated this or done other crimes. And I got this overriding sense of hopelessness, particularly from boys, from men.

And I know Lindiwe Mazibuko touched on it yesterday about the fact that the high unemployment rates, really bad education, may -- are disempowering men. And I might -- it might sound flippant, but in a way, they're taking out their emasculation on women.


CURNOW: And what is also very critical is that not a lot of very good male role models in this country, millions and millions of children are fatherless. And I think that, in a way, is a key. And a lot of people are looking to try and address that, just create programs where these kids can be mentored.

AMANPOUR: But there's no doubt there's a huge amount of that that plays into it. But again, President Zuma spoke about Anene's case and spoke about the need for more law enforcement, more prosecutions and much more protection for women.

But remember, as you know better than I do, the Pistorius case was not about disadvantaged youth. It was wealth and fame and this is what happened.

So do you think that there could be a turning point or not?

CURNOW: I don't. I mean, again, I might be sounding like a cynical old hack here, but I think that these cases keep on happening and they, perhaps, touch different communities at different times. A wealthy man will get murdered, like David Rattray a number of years ago. And there was a huge outcry.

There's a cycle of outrage in this country, a cycle of, you know, a reflection, soul-searching. And then more of the same keeps on continuing. I think the fundamental issues are still very much there. And yet, there are high rates of crime.

Someone like Oscar Pistorius felt very vulnerable. I know he did. I was in that house with him. He was in a very gated community. He chose to have weapons because he was scared, because he was nervous.

He might have also liked to go shoot guns, but the underlying thing is that when you've go to bed at night in this country, you barricade yourself up if you can afford to. And you still don't feel safe. Now whatever happened in the early hours in Oscar's house on Valentine's Day, you know, this all does still play into it.

AMANPOUR: And of course, as you say, tomorrow he's going to be charged with murder. We will keep watching this. Robyn Curnow, thank you so much indeed for joining us today.

And now, coming apart at the seams? It sure looks like it, two years into the Arab Spring. The winds of hope and change have turned into a tempest of fear and people are crying foul.

From Tunisia, where the recent assassination of an opposition leader has plunged the country into its worst turmoil, to Egypt, where a constitutional crisis late last year has developed into a full-blown protest against the Islamist government of President Morsi.

To Libya, awash in weapons, unregulated militias and unsecured borders. There is mounting concern everywhere over the state of these revolutions. Have Islamist parties that catapulted to power after decades in the wilderness simply overreached? Or is this just a natural part of the bumpy road to democracy?

Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center, knows many of these leaders now in power. He has rare insight and he joins me live from Tunisia where the Arab Spring, as we know, began.

Shadi, thank you for joining me. Let me go straight to the Tunisian crisis. The prime minister has said in the wake of the assassination of the opposition leader that there must be a change of government, that unless it happens, he's going to resign and that he needs just technocrat. Is this going to happen?

SHADI HAMID, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, BROOKINGS DOHA CENTER: It doesn't look like it. The party that he's part of, Ennahda, the ruling Islamist party, is actually opposing the idea of a technocratic government. And they're saying that they were elected in the democratic process. So why should they essentially give up power to unelected technocrats?

But what's interesting here is that the Islamists have formed a coalition with other secular parties against the technocratic government. So it doesn't look like it's going to happen. But that's part of the reason why you see a crisis now not just between Islamists and seculars but within the Islamist camp itself.

AMANPOUR: Precisely. Given these divisions that you've just mentioned, and I'm hearing from you, of course, something that we've been noticing, an absolute absence of soul-searching, blame by the Islamists, by the Ennahda party, that it's a host to foreign influences or it's the media or it's a small elite that's complaining about the assassination and then complaining about the crisis.

Is there a sense that they're hunkering down? As I mentioned, you know, they had reached out originally. They had talked about being the leaders of all the population. And yet it does seem that the ideology of Islamism is favored.

HAMID: Yes. Well, you're hearing a lot from Ennahda officials, is that they've made compromise after compromise and concession to the secular opposition. They took out sharia from the constitutional draft. They formed a coalition with two secular parties. But what they're saying is the secularists still hate them and they haven't gotten anything in return.

So there's a sense of frustration from their perspective. And what's interesting is that I think Tunisia is the one place where you -- where you would have thought it would be better because the Islamists there are just about as moderate as you'll get. So if it's not going to work in Tunisia, is it going to work anywhere else?

And I think the problem here is something fundamental and deep in these societies, is that secularists and Islamists have a very different world view. There's a battle for the soul of these countries about what kind of project these countries are going to enter to, what -- how are these societies going to look?

So I think that's a real difficult debate to resolve. So I think some of it's natural; some of it's inevitable, especially in a place like Tunisia, where you had forced secularism for the last 50 years. And for the first time now, the lid's been taken off. And people are able to make their own --

AMANPOUR: And yet --

HAMID: -- decisions and decide how they want to understand their identity.

AMANPOUR: Exactly. And you move further afield into Egypt, I mean, it's an even worse crisis. There have been people in the streets since November-December over the constitution.

But, again, there's this sense that these political parties, which, as I said, have been in the wilderness, have come to take power and have got a crisis of governance. They're not governing and the people feel -- a majority of them, any, or a lot of them, they feel alienated. Is it too late? Is this a turning point?

HAMID: Well, here's -- it's still very early. I mean, in Tunisia, the government's only been in power for just over a year. And I think people have to understand there's a bureaucratic structure that is corrupt and rotten to the core.

So no matter who's coming to power, you're going to have a lot of difficulty delivering tangible economic results. So for example, I think it's especially striking in Tunisia because there you had Islamists who were either in prison or in exile in Europe. Two years ago, they're going from prison to the palace in just a matter of a year.

They don't have the skills; they don't have the knowledge of the society to be able to govern effectively. And in the midranks, the bureaucratic structures are full of people from the old regime or people who don't -- who are fearful of Islamists in power. So you're seeing this real clash within the ministries themselves. And that's part of the problem here.

AMANPOUR: Well, of course, a huge part of the problem is the inability to deliver on the economy, which was the basis of many of these revolutions and uprisings. Major economic difficulties in Egypt, downgraded; they're dead and they can't get the IMF loan right now.

What happens? I mean, in reality, what happens on the street if things politically continue as they are?

HAMID: Well, you're going to see more and more street protests. And that's going to lead to polarization, to deaths on both sides, which we've seen in Egypt. But I think people have to be patient and realize that the democratic process takes time; transitions -- and maybe we as analysts, we were a little bit too optimistic early on. We bought into all of this euphoria.

But historically transitions are difficult, messy and bloody. So I think it has to do with where people's expectations are.

AMANPOUR: Shadi Hamid, we'll keep watching this. We talked also about Libya. And as we all know, there is no revolution yet in Syria, where the fighting continues. Thanks again for joining me.

And while the Arab Spring has hit a speed bump, today love as well as unrest is in the air. Take a look at this woman in Yemen, buying flowers, Valentine's Day is catching on in the Middle East and around the world.

And after a break, remember when the U.S. economy was teetering on the brink? I'll talk to the top financial cop who walked the $700 billion bailout beat back then. Neil Barofsky is a civilian now, but he still knows where the bodies are buried and he warns that another crash is coming.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. Now just as a desperate world seeks to inch out of the deep financial hole, new warnings that another crash is inevitable. So says my next guest, Neil Barofsky, who has rare insights since he played a key role in getting the United States back on its feet after the 2008 financial meltdown.

He was a little-known federal prosecutor here in New York back then when he was appointed by the Bush administration to the big job of policing TARP, which is the program that injected billions of government dollars into the banks to shield them from troubled assets.

Little did he know that as special inspector general for TARP, he'd be entering the lions' den. And now he's sounding the alarm again in his best-selling book, "Bailout: How Washington Abandoned Main Street while Rescuing Wall Street."

Neil Barofsky, welcome to the program. Has to be said that this book is coming out now in paper book. It's been out. But I really want to get to your rather terrifying prediction that another crash is inevitable.

NEIL BAROFSKY, FORMER TARP I.G.: Well, I mean, you look what happened in 2008, and we had a financial crisis that was caused by a handful of banks that had grown so large and so interconnected that they were deemed by policymakers and the markets as being too big to fail, warranting a bailout. And all of the bad incentives that are created with presumption that a bank can be bailed out.

What's happened since then? We've taken our largest banks in this country and made them 20-25 percent larger than they were before the crisis.

All those bad incentives that flow from the implicit guarantee that the government will bail them out again are in place or made more solid. So you have the same level of interconnectedness, but you also have the same incentives that drive risk, knowing that the executives -- knowing that if they take big risks, they'll get to keep the profits, but it'll be us, the taxpayers, who bear the losses.

AMANPOUR: You were mentioning and you were watching carefully, obviously, the testimony and the congressional hearing for confirmation of the next Secretary of the Treasury. What did he say or not say that concerned you?

BAROFSKY: He said -- and this is sort of a Washington line among some circles -- that we're done, that we've passed the regulatory reform bill called Dodd-Frank. And that solved the too big to fail problem, but never again do we have to worry about bailing out the largest banks.

The problem is is that's just simply not true. It's a fiction. The banks still have advantages because they can borrow more cheaply than others, because of that implicit guarantee. And what we've seen most recently, not just the U.S. banks but the European banks as well, is that they're not even subject to the same level of criminal law.

The policymakers at the Department of Justice have decided that they will not and cannot indict these institutions even when they commit crimes because the presumption that if they do so, they'll bring them down and therefore bring down the entire global economy.

AMANPOUR: Is that what you meant when you write and describe in your book, "too big to jail"?

BAROFSKY: Too big to jail, exactly. And this is -- I mean when I -- when I wrote this in the foreword, it was months ago before we started to have these official announcements.

But with HSBC and the money laundering case against them, with some of the recent LIBOR settlements, Department of Justice has affirmatively said that one of the reasons why they have not seeked (sic) more stringent criminal liability was because of this concerns to destabilizing the world's economy.

AMANPOUR: Let me play the devil's advocate, because those who might take a different view say, well, look, this is a capitalist system and like it or not, we live in a capitalist system. And the banks are a huge part of that system. You know, in some countries, makes up a majority of the GDP. And if we collapse, then, we also do collapse the whole system, the whole global economy.

What do you say to that?

BAROFSKY: Well, I think, in some ways, they're right. And I think Department of Justice, when it makes a determination that it can't indict one of these institutions, in some ways, they're right as well.

But it really is a potential; could have that devastating effect. So I think that that's the whole problem with the too big to fail problem, is that they operate by a different set of rules, and therefore that incentivizes then to commit more crime. I mean, for any individual who commits a crime and then gets off for some other reason, that means they're going to go do the more crime.

But the -- that can't be the end of the conversation. And what we need to do is it's certainly in the United States is break up the banks. So that way, no bank is so big or so large or so interconnected that its failure could bring down the system. That's when you start getting your way towards a more healthy recovery.

AMANPOUR: Now looking at Barclays, which has been in the news over in England, it's talked about announced restructuring; it's talked about putting its operation on, quote, "a more ethical footing." What lesson should we take from that?

BAROFSKY: Well, those words are very helpful, and it's always very good to hear an institution, especially one like Barclays, which has been really roughed up in the LIBOR scandal, saying that they're going to send a message down from the top.

Unfortunately, we've heard these phrases before. And you know, one of the things that you see with these large institutions is a sense of recidivism, where they get caught. They pay a fine. The shareholders get a slap on the wrist, at least in Barclays, we saw sort of placement of management, which we never see in the United States.

But the problem is the lack of really, really severe punishment, is that they soon lapse back into those bad, unethical practices.

In a way, it's a race to the bottom. There's such pressure to meet the profit margins of the peers that they inevitably go down that same path, take more risks, cut corners, go over the line, again, in the name of profit, to be competitive. So it's good to hear it, but, you know, I'll believe it when I see it.

AMANPOUR: In your book -- and let's not forget, you're a federal prosecutor and you did a lot of things, I mean, with drug laws and all the rest of it, you write about the concept of bullets or bribes.

What were you talking about when you entered what I call the lions' den in Washington?

BAROFSKY: Well, I think, you know, one of the problems that I talk about is the fact that the banks are too big to fail. But we have a real regulatory problem in the United States as well, and the incentives really line up against people who try to do affirmative regulation.

So what I'm referring to, I was told very point-blank in 2010 that I needed to think more about my own personal future, because my job was a temporary one; I was about to have a kid; our first -- our daughter was about to be born.

And I was told by very a senior Treasury official that I was going to do real harm to myself and my family because of my harsh tones towards Washington, the Obama administration as well, towards my criticism towards the banks. And that if I didn't change my tone, it would really hurt my ability to get a job on Wall Street or even in government.

AMANPOUR: Threats.

BAROFSKY: But then, of course, that was the bullet. Then the bribe came as a -- but if I soften my tone, was a little bit more upbeat, then all those things could happen for me, including maybe even a judgeship a federal appointment of a judgeship -- which, for a lawyer is a really big deal -- if only I would soften my tone.

And so being a former narcotics prosecutor and my deputy was also one with me, when we were prosecutors in New York, he jokingly compared that to Pablo Escobar, who corrupted the Colombian government by offering what was known as the gold or the letter, the bullet or the bribe, which was essentially telling officials when he's corrupting them, either you're going to do my bidding and take this giant bag of pesos or you're going to get a bullet in your head.

AMANPOUR: I mean, it's extraordinary to hear you say that.

Just very briefly, this TARP was meant to be for people. And I just can't get over what I just read about like a Spanish company who committed suicide, an elderly couple this week, because they couldn't pay their house rent; they thought they were going to get evicted. And they committed suicide.

How have the people fared in this situation?

BAROFSKY: It was the ultimate betrayal in many ways, the way that TARP was administered. It was supposed to help 4 million people stay in their homes. It was supposed to deal with the foreclosure crisis that was ripping across our country.

And TARP never gets past it, never gets enacted by Congress, but for explicit promises that it would help homeowners, Main Street, small businesses, be able to aid in economic recovery, and every opportunity that they had, they chose the interests of the largest banks and left everyone else behind.

And that's one of the reasons why I wrote this book, was to make sure people could understand why and how that happened and so hopefully it won't happen again.

AMANPOUR: Neil Barofsky, thank you very much for joining me.

BAROFSKY: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And after a quick break, smuggling upbeat messages across troubled borders, fighting vitriol with valentines, when we return.



AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, on this Valentine's Day, the world needs all the hearts and flowers it can get. Fortunately, we found some amid some of the most troubled spots that we've covered.

Last spring, when tensions between Israel and Iran were at the boiling point, and an Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear program seemed possible, Ronny Edri, an Israeli graphic designer, sprung into action.

RONNY EDRI, ISRAEL LOVES IRAN: I was in the army. I was in the paratroopers for three years. And I know how it looks from the ground. I know how it can look really bad. So to me, this is the courageous thing to do, to try to reach the other side before it's too late.


AMANPOUR: How did he do it? He and his wife sent an early Valentine on Facebook to ordinary citizens in Iran. And a sudden outburst of people-to- people diplomacy was born. Israel-Loves-Iran became an instant sensation with thousands of Israelis posting hearts of their own.

And people in Iran responded, posting peace-loving messages to the Israelis. Truly astonishing, given the vitriol hurled back and forth between the two governments.

And with violence against women, the most widespread and least punished crime in the world, as we've been discussing on this program, according to the United Nations, a call to action is going out today. It's begun by Eve Ensler of "The Vagina Monologues," who gave us a preview on this program last fall.


EVE ENSLER, AUTHOR AND ACTIVIST: It's a call to the 1 billion women and all the men who love them to rise, walk out of their jobs, their schools, their offices, get their posses, get their groups and dance. It's a dance action.


AMANPOUR: One Billion Rising, it's called. So will dancing end violence against women? Will hearts on Facebook bring peace? Who knows. But when people stand up, it's a start. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. And that's it for tonight's program. Meantime, you can always contact us on our website, Thanks for watching and goodbye from New York.