S.Africa celebrities who faced their day in court

For the rich or poor, famous or unknown, violent crime is a fear

in South Africa, a nation of 50 million where some 50 people are

killed each day – one of the world’s highest murder rates.

But in a society that largely favors stiff penalties for

criminals and has one of the world’s largest prison populations,

South Africa has a mixed history when it comes to how its criminal

justice system handles celebrities.

Olympian Oscar Pistorius was arrested and charged with murder

for the shooting death of his 29-year-old model girlfriend Reeva

Steenkamp. In 2009, police officers largely dropped an

investigation into how the sprinter crashed a speedboat. And late

last year officers in the police’s special Hawks unit intervened in

an altercation Pistorius had with a millionaire over a woman. There

were also claims by police that officers received calls about

domestic altercations at the athlete’s home before Steenkamp’s

shooting death Thursday, though they haven’t elaborated on

that.

Here is a look at some other recent homicide cases that have

involved celebrities in South Africa:

– Jub Jub: Molemo Maarohanye, best known by his stage name Jub

Jub, was arrested after a March 8, 2010 drag race in which he and

his co-accused ploughed cars into a group of schoolchildren,

killing four and seriously injuring two. Many families worried the

hip-hop star and Themba Tshabalala would not be convicted because

of their wealth. In December, the two men were sentenced to 25

years over the killings.

– Rugby player kills police officer: In August 2010, rugby

player Bees Roux was arrested after beating a police officer to

death in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria, after being pulled over

on suspicion of drunk driving. Roux, who played for Pretoria’s Blue

Bulls team and Super 14 champions the Bulls, later pleaded guilty

to culpable homicide and received a five-year suspended prison

sentence. Roux also agreed to pay the victim’s family 750,000 rand

($85,000) as compensation.

– Rugby hatchet killings: In April 2011, former South Africa

under-21 rugby player Joseph Ntshongwana was arrested and charged

with murder for allegedly hacking to death four people with an ax.

Authorities said one of the bodies was decapitated. Ntshongwana,

who has been diagnosed with a bipolar condition and schizophrenia,

is due to appear in court again in April for his ongoing trial.

– Accidental shootings: In 2004, former Springbok rugby player

Rudi Visagie awoke to the sound of his car driving away in the

predawn hours. He opened fire with a handgun at the car, fatally

wounding the driver – who turned out to be his 19-year-old

daughter, Maryle.

After an investigation, however, prosecutors declined to press

charges on what they described as ”humanitarian grounds.”

AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray contributed to this report.

Jon Gambrell can be reached at

www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.