Public opinion takes a backseat #OscarPistorius

By Drum Digital
06 July 2016

Thokozile Masipa, presiding judge in the Oscar Pistorius case for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, made clear today that public opinion played no role in her first decision of a five-year sentence for culpable homicide in 2014.

By Ayanda Sitole

On Wednesday, Masipa made reference to several cases which she believed had a strong public opinion and that did not influence the decision of the court.

“There is a limited role in sentencing that is influenced by public opinion or greater public interest,” she said.

“The object of sentencing is not to satisfy the public and the court cannot allow itself to be diverted. The court must remain independent as arbiter of the law.”

While sentencing, Masipa said she was taking into consideration the fact the Pistorius had already served 12 months in prison and her decision had to be fair to Pistorius and the Steenkamp family.

She said Pistorius’ attempts to meet with the Steenkamp family to apologise for his actions were denied on several occasions and he was never given the opportunity to express his remorse.

This is in contradiction with the testimony of Barry Steenkamp who appeared in court on 14 June  where he appealed to Pistorius’s defence lawyer, Barry Roux, to be allowed an opportunity to meet with Pistorius and have a private conversation with him in the future.

Steenkamp said he wanted to use the opportunity to gage Pistorius and ask why he had committed the crime.

Oscar has been sentenced to six years imprisonment on a murder charge.

Under the hashtag #OscarPistorius, the public has expressed its opinion on twitter.

Some have expressed outrage that other criminals have received harsher sentencing for lesser crimes, believing that Pistorius’ sentence is too low.

Some have expressed sympathy for the Steenkamp family.

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