Masipa: Don’t want to punish Pistorius twice

2014-05-14 14:32
Judge Thokozile Masipa (File, AFP)

Judge Thokozile Masipa (File, AFP)

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The differing defences for Oscar Pistorius

2014-08-07 09:30

Oscar Pistorius's defence team seems to have put forth three differing defences. William Booth, a criminal law expert, says there may be four different versions to consider.WATCH

Pretoria - The aim of referring Oscar Pistorius for mental observation was not to punish him “twice”, said Judge Thokozile Masipa on Wednesday.

Mental observation would ensure Pistorius gets a fair trial, Masipa said.

She ordered that he be sent for psychiatric evaluation after forensic psychiatrist Dr Merryll Vorster testified that he had general anxiety disorder. This prompted the State to lodge an application to refer him for observation.

"This is not about anyone's convenience but rather about justice being served," Masipa said granting the State’s application.

"I am satisfied that a case has been made out for the application, or the relief as sought by the State, and I shall grant that order."

Masipa said she was aware that the referral would cause more delays, but she believed it was in the interest of justice.

Defence’s opposition to order ‘strange’

She said the State should consider the possibility of admitting him as an out-patient.

Going over her order on Wednesday, Masipa said it was strange that the defence opposed the State's application.

Vorster's evidence had brought to the court's attention Pistorius's criminal capacity when he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius had a long history of general anxiety disorder that appeared to be increasing with time, Vorster said.

Masipa said the court would not be able to determine Pistorius’s mental capacity "without the guidance of expert psychiatrists".

"There is also a possibility that there may be diminished criminal responsibility," she said.

"This court… is ill-equipped to deal with the issues raised in Dr Vorster’s evidence in this case… Dr Vorster's report cannot replace a proper inquiry."

Masipa said Vorster only had two interviews with Pistorius, on 2 and 7 May, and she might have had little time to compile a report.

Proper inquiry ‘ensures a fair trial’

"A proper inquiry… would ensure that the accused gets a fair trial,” she said.

Pistorius is charged with murdering Steenkamp. He shot her dead through the locked door of his toilet in his Pretoria home on 14 February last year.

He has denied guilt, saying he thought she was an intruder about to open the door and attack him. The State contends he shot her during an argument.

Masipa said there had been allegations during the trial that Pistorius was not criminally responsible at the time of the shooting and that could not be ignored.

Read more on:    gerrie nel  |  reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  barry roux  |  thokozile masipa  |  crime  |  pistorius trial

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