WRAP: Oscar sentenced to 6 years for murder

2016-07-06 21:11
Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius as he leaves the High Court in Pretoria,after being sentenced to six years in jail for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. (Marco Longari, Pool AFP)

Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius as he leaves the High Court in Pretoria,after being sentenced to six years in jail for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. (Marco Longari, Pool AFP)

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WATCH: The moment Oscar Pistorius was read his sentence

2016-07-06 16:00

Watch the moment paralympian Oscar Pistorius was handed down his six-year prison sentence by Judge Masipa on Wednesday, for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. WATCH

Pretoria – Judge Thokozile Masipa heavily favoured Oscar Pistorius' defence on Wednesday when she sentenced him to six years in jail for murdering Reeva Steenkamp.

It was only one year more than the 5-year sentence for culpable homicide she imposed on him in 2014. National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke said they noted the sentence and would consider their options. Pistorius would not appeal.

Masipa said the defence was correct in its submission that the Pistorius who shot and killed Steenkamp on February 14, 2013, was not the "acclaimed Oscar who defied all on the racetrack and won medals".

She referred to Pistorius being made to walk across the courtroom on his stumps during sentencing proceedings last month. He did so at the request of his lawyer Barry Roux, to prove he was vulnerable and struggled to stay upright without his prostheses.

She said even without this demonstration, it was easy to see the court was dealing with two different people, the strong, 1.80m tall athlete, and the scared and vulnerable man, 1.50m tall on his stumps confronting what he thought was an intruder in his bathroom in the dark.

"I am of the view that a long term of imprisonment will not serve justice," she said.

Strong candidate for rehabilitation

After Masipa concluded her 70-minute long judgment, Pistorius hugged several members of his family and kissed his crying sister Aimee on the cheek before he was led down the steps leading to the cells.

In December last year, the Supreme Court of Appeal tasked Masipa with sentencing Pistorius afresh after it overturned her culpable homicide verdict and replaced it with murder.

Masipa said Roux had argued that a perception had been created that the strong and capable Pistorius killed Steenkamp. Masipa agreed and said it was the court’s job to dispel this perception, to prevent "unjustified outrage" from the public.

She said he was a strong candidate for rehabilitation and that there were substantial and compelling circumstances to deviate from the prescribed 15-year minimum sentence for murder.

She disagreed with the State’s claim that he did not show remorse. He apologised to the Steenkamps in court during his trial, after trying unsuccessfully, and on several occasions, to meet them to ask for forgiveness. He continued his attempts after he was jailed, but was rebuffed.

Dignified silence

"It is improbable that he would try to meet the family repeatedly if he was not genuinely remorseful."

Masipa only sided with the State's case when she said she had lent "very little weight" to the evidence of defence witness, clinical psychologist Prof Jonathan Scholtz. He testified that Pistorius was a broken man. If he were his patient, he would have had him hospitalised.

She rejected Scholtz's claim that Pistorius' condition had deteriorated in the last two years. Masipa cited evidence that he had been hoarding anti-depressant medication in his cell at Kgosi Mampuru prison.

The Steenkamps did not show any emotion as they left the court. Their lawyer Dup de Bruyn told ANC Women's League members that the law had run its course. He advised them to maintain a "dignified silence".

The league's Jacqui Mofokeng said the sentence was an embarrassment to the country's justice system. She pointed to the black doek on her head and said it was a day of mourning.

Other league members called the sentence an insult to the country's women. They sang "Senzeni na? [What have we done?]", as they stood in the street outside the court, around the white car the Steenkamps were driven away in.

A member of Pistorius' legal team, Andrew Fawcett, told reporters outside the court that the former Paralympian would not appeal. He would be eligible for parole after having served between three and four years of his sentence.

Read more on:    reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  thokozile masipa  |  pretoria  |  pistorius trial

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