Oscar to be sentenced for murder

2016-06-12 15:37
Oscar Pistorius cries in the dock. (Phil Magakoe, AP, Pool)

Oscar Pistorius cries in the dock. (Phil Magakoe, AP, Pool)

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'We believe it was a tragic accident' - Oscar supporters rally outside court

2016-04-18 09:04

Oscar Pistorius supporters gathered outside the Pretoria High Court ahead of the former Paralympian's scheduled appearance. Although Pistorius has been convicted of murder, they maintain Reeva Steenkamp's death was a "tragic accident". Watch.WATCH

Pretoria – Former paralympian Oscar Pistorius will return to the High Court in Pretoria on Monday to be sentenced for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.

Sentencing procedures have been set down for a week, before Judge Thokozile Masipa, who originally sentenced Pistorius in October 2014.

The process would be similar to a trial, and the defence and State would be able to call witnesses to argue in aggravation and mitigation of sentencing, and could then cross-examine them, lawyer William Booth said.

Pistorius could get up to 15 years, but it would depend on factors like his physical state and how much time he had already spent in custody. He could ask for leave to appeal the sentence if he felt it was too harsh, Booth said.

In the early hours of February 14, 2013, Pistorius shot Steenkamp four times through the locked door of the toilet in his Silver Woods Country Estate home. He claimed he thought there was an intruder behind the door about to emerge and harm him, and that Reeva was still in bed.

In October 2014, Masipa sentenced him to 5 years behind bars after finding him guilty of culpable homicide.

The National Prosecuting Authority approached the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) to argue that he should have been found guilty of murder.

Pistorius was released on October 19 last year, to serve out the rest of his sentence under correctional supervision at his uncle Arnold’s house. He had spent nearly a year in Kgosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria.

On December 3 last year, the SCA overturned his culpable homicide conviction, and replaced it with the more serious one of murder. It sent the matter back to the high court to determine an appropriate sentence.

The SCA found Masipa committed an error in law by incorrectly applying the principles of dolus eventualis when she found him guilty of culpable homicide.

A perpetrator acts with dolus eventualis when they foresee their actions could kill someone, they reconcile themselves to this possibility and carry on, gambling with the other person’s life.

Masipa’s consideration of dolus eventualis was centred on whether Pistorius thought Steenkamp was in the toilet. Because he thought she was still in bed, he did not foresee that his shooting into the door would kill her. He could thus not be found guilty of her murder, Masipa found.

The SCA however found that Pistorius intended to kill whoever was behind the door. The victim’s identity was irrelevant to his guilt, the SCA said.

It found Masipa committed another error in law by ignoring the evidence of police ballistics expert, Captain Chris Mangena, who testified about the trajectory of the bullets into the toilet and where Steenkamp was hit. He fired into a small space where there was nowhere to hide, using Black Talon ammunition, which causes horrific injuries when it hits human flesh.

The SCA agreed with Masipa that Pistorius was a “very poor witness” who contradicted himself and never properly explained his reasons for firing the shots.

It congratulated Masipa for her handling of the trial and said that while she made mistakes, this did not reflect adversely on her competence and ability.

Read more on:    oscar pistorius  |  johannesburg  |  crime

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