South African Six-time Paralympic gold medallist Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to six years in prison for the murder of his model and law student girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February 2013.
After the verdict was read, Pistorius, 29, who was dressed in a dark suit and white shirt quietly hugged his sister before he was whisked off to Khosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria to start serving his sentence.
In a trial that started in March 2014, immediately gripping the attention of audiences both at home in South Africa and all over the world, Pistorius admitted to shooting Reeva Steenkamp four times through a locked toilet door but said he mistook her for an intruder and fired the gun only out of fear. The state had recommended that the disgraced athlete receive a sentence of no less than the 15-year minimum, after his initial five-year manslaughter conviction which he had started serving in October 2014 was upgraded to murder on appeal in December 2015.
The Paralympian’s lawyers have indicated that he will not be looking to appeal against this six-year sentence. Pistorius has already served 12 months in prison for his previous manslaughter conviction and will have to serve at least half of his new sentence in jail before he can apply for parole.
What the judge said.
In a court session that lasted about an hour Judge Thokozile Masipa, who heard the original trial, remarked that her opinion was that “a long term in prison will not serve justice”. She went on to say that her sentence needed to be fair to both Pistorius and the family of Ms. Steenkamp. Judge Masipa both acknowledged and dismissed public pressure for a longer sentence for the crime telling the court, “Public opinion may be loud and persistent, but it can play no role in the decision of this court”.
As she delivered the verdict, the 68-year-old judge justified her decision to diverge from the 15-year minimum sentence for murder that the state prosecution had called for saying, “I am of the view that mitigating circumstances outweigh the aggravating factors.”
Shock and dismay.
South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in the world, the latest national statistics from the South African Police Service (SAPS) indicate that South Africa’s murder rate stands at 33 per 100,000 people compared to the global average rate of intentional homicide which is at roughly six per 100,000. Many locals have expressed shock and dissatisfaction saying such a short sentence which is less than half the prescribed 15-year minimum for murder there sends the wrong message to possible offenders.
South Africans have taken to social media to express their disappointment with the Pistorius sentence, with some pointing at both male and white privilege as factors in the sentencing of the disgraced athlete.
Oscar Pistorius carries both white privilege & male privilege. His life is so beautiful.— Zandi Kutyise (@ItsMbasa) July 6, 2016
This is what we mean when we say a black face at the top doesn't dismantle whiteness, it duplicates the audacity to remain inconspicuous.— Khanya Gqiyazana (@Khanya_Ashley) July 6, 2016
As women we are not safe, it's sad & shocking that females with high powers aren't even here to protect and represent us! #OscarPistorius— snapchat: KNaomiN (@KNaomi_N) July 6, 2016
Pistorius had his legs amputated below the knee as a baby but went on to make history by becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete at the #Olympics, during the 2012 edition held in London, running on prosthetic “blades” which earned him the “blade runner” nickname. #News #Celebrities