On Wednesday, Judge Thokozile Masipa sentenced convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius to 6 years in jail for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. This concludes a case that has dragged on for almost three years.
Masipa said she found that there were compelling circumstances to give Pistorius a lesser sentence, despite the prosecution wanting the prescribed sentence for murder.
“To answer the question whether there exist substantial and compelling circumstances justifying a lesser sentence, courts must also [consider] aggravating factors as well as mitigating factors,” she said.
She also disagreed with the prosecution’s argument that Pistorius did not show any remorse, saying that trying to meet with Steenkamp’s family was a sign of remorse from Pistorius. Masipa also added that while Pistorius might have been said to have a short temper, that didn’t make him a violent person.
“This court is aware that the accused has expressed a wish to do community work as punishment, that is a noble gesture. However punishment is not what you choose to do, it is something that is imposed on you,” she said. “I am of the view that a long-term imprisonment will not serve justice in this matter,” she said before she sentenced Pistorius to six years in prison.
On 3 December last year, the Supreme Court of Appeal ordered that the former paralympic athlete be sentenced afresh after it overturned Masipa’s finding that he was guilty of culpable homicide. It replaced her conviction with one of murder.
During sentencing proceedings in June, prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked Masipa to sentence Pistorius to a minimum of 15 years because he intentionally killed Steenkamp.
He said Pistorius had still not shown remorse for murdering the model and law graduate on 14 February 2013. He had failed to take the court into his confidence and reveal his reasons for firing the four shots that killed her. Instead, he gave an interview to broadcaster ITV. Nel said this was disrespectful to the court and to the Steenkamps.
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Barry Roux, for Pistorius, said the athlete was a vulnerable man with an anxiety disorder, and stood only 1,5 metres tall on his stumps. Roux on 15 June argued that Pistorius confronted what he believed was an intruder hiding in his bathroom, in the dark, at 3am that day in February. Regarding the portrayal of Pistorius as a gold-medal winner; a strong, ambitious man who stands 1,84 metres tall, Roux said: “That perception perfectly attaches to the I-wanted-to-kill theory.”
Masipa also ruled that six photos of Steenkamp taken at the scene of the crime could be published. Nel made the request, following the testimony of Steenkamp’s father, Barry Steenkamp, that he wanted the world to see what Pistorius did to his daughter in the hope that this would prevent similar crimes.
Additional reporting by News24 Wire