Pistorius gets 6 years for murder of Reeva Steenkamp


Disgraced Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to six years’ jail for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp three years ago.
Key points:
Pistorius shot Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013
He has always denied killing Steenkamp in a rage
Judge Thokozile Masipa delivered the sentence
The gold medallist was taken to jail immediately after sentencing in a South African court.
The state had called for him to receive no less than the prescribed minimum 15-year sentence for murder but High Court Judge Thokozile Masipa listed several mitigating factors for sentencing him to less than that, including the athlete’s claim he believed he was shooting an intruder.
“He cannot be at peace. I’m of the view that a long term of imprisonment will not serve justice,” Judge Masipa said.
“He’s a first offender. Considering the facts of this matter, he’s not likely to re-offend.”
Judge Masipa, who heard the original trial, said in her ruling “public opinion may be loud and persistent, but it can play no role in the decision of this court”.
Pistorius hugged his family before being taken out of the court in Pretoria to begin serving his term.
“Pistorius will serve “between half and two-thirds of the sentence” before he can apply for parole, Pistorius’ instructing attorney, Andrew Fawcett, said.
Pistorius’s defence team said they would not appeal the sentence, but the state could launch a final round of appeals against the length of the prison term.
The National Prosecution Authority said no decision had been made on whether to appeal for a longer sentence, but expressed its disappointment.
“How are we going to be satisfied if we have been fighting for 15 years and we get six?” said NPA spokeswoman Bulelwa Makeke.
A challenge to the Supreme Court of Appeal would be another blow to Judge Masipa, who issued the original culpable homicide verdict that was later overturned.
Pistorius was freed from prison in the South African capital Pretoria last October after serving one year of a five-year term for culpable homicide — the equivalent of manslaughter.
But an appeals court upgraded the conviction to murder.
The 29-year-old shot Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013, claiming he mistook her for a burglar when he fired four times through the door of his bedroom toilet.
He pleaded not guilty at his trial in 2014 and has always denied killing Steenkamp in a rage, saying he was trying to protect her.
But the Supreme Court of Appeal in December ruled he was guilty of murder, irrespective of who he believed was behind the door, when he opened fire with a high-calibre pistol he kept under his bed.
The athlete had the lower part of his legs amputated when he was a baby and his lawyers have argued that his disability and mental stress should be considered as mitigating circumstances to reduce his sentence.
‘An insult to the women of South Africa’
Many legal experts had earlier said they expected a term of between 11 and 14 years.
Some rights groups said Pistorius, a wealthy white man and international celebrity, had received preferential treatment compared to others without his status or wealth.
“We are very disappointed … from five years that we fought against, and now it is six, what is that?” Jacqui Mofokeng, spokeswoman of the ruling ANC party’s women league, said after the sentencing.
“It’s an insult to the women of South Africa.”
He told a recent television interview that he believed Steenkamp would want him to devote his life to charity rather than return to prison for killing her.
“I don’t want to go back to jail,” he said. “If I was afforded the opportunity of redemption, I would like to help the less fortunate.
“I would like to believe that if Reeva could look down upon me that she would want me to live that life.”
Outside the court, a group of people held up placards backing the athlete. One read: “Give Oscar his freedom back please”.
Steenkamp’s mother and father, who said Pistorius had to pay for his crime, were also in the court.


Reeva Steenkamp’s parents

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