Oscar Pistorius murder trial: State launches fresh bid to overturn six-year sentence

AUGUST 26, 2016

The Oscar Pistorius murder trial is again expected to take centerstage on Friday as the State seeks permission to appeal the "too lenient" jail sentence imposed on the disgraced former Paralympian by Judge Masipa in the Gauteng High Court, in Pretoria, on 6 July.

Judge Masipa sentenced Pistorius to six years behind bars for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day 2013.

"We respectfully submit that the sentence of six years imprisonment, in all the circumstances, is disproportionate to the crime of murder committed, in casu, that is to say, shockingly too lenient, and has accordingly resulted in an injustice and has the potential to bring the administration of justice into disrepute," the NPA said.

"We hope that this appeal will also clarify further the principles of sentencing, particularly in crime categories for which there are prescribed minimum sentences ordained by legislation, notwithstanding the fact that a judicial officer has a discretion to deviate from the minimum sentence after considering compelling circumstances."

However, Reeva Steenkamp's parents, June and Barry, have said that, while they have always fully supported State Prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, and his team’s fight for justice for Reeva, they had no input in the decision of the state to appeal the six-year sentence.

Why six years?

In handing down sentence, Judge Masipa said that there were “substantial and compelling reasons” to deviate from the 15-year minimum sentence for murder, citing as one factor the continuing misperception that Pistorius had intended to kill his girlfriend.

She listed mitigating factors as:

  • Pistorius was vulnerable on his stumps without his protheses.
  • He believed the person in the bathroom was an intruder.
  • He “immediately took steps to try to save the deceased’s life”.
  • The judge believed he was genuinely remorseful.

She said the aggravating factors were:

  • Pistorius used a lethal weapon, with high-grade ammunition.
  • He fired four times, “knowing full well” there was someone in the bathroom.
  • He did not take the precaution of firing a warning shot.

Judge Masipa previously found Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced him to five years. That conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeal in December last year, which commuted his conviction to murder.

He served 10 months of the initial 5-year sentence before being placed under house arrest at his uncle's upmarket home in Pretoria.

It is not clear yet how much of the six-year sentence he will be compelled to serve in prison before he will once again be eligible for parole.

His legal counsel, however, indicated that they will not be appealing the sentence and said the State's latest appeal is completely unnecessary. 

Pistorius was then taken down to the cells, where he was taken to the Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre in Pretoria to start serving his sentence.

Many took to social media claiming that he has once again gotten away with murder for the second time.

ANC Women’s League spokesperson, Jacqui Mofokeng, who was at the court, told the media that a six-year jail term is an insult to women. They had expected at least 10 years.

Still some law experts maintains Judge Masipa was simply following the law.

Some also believe Oscar is innocent and that the State is just trying to make an example with him.

WATCH: The moment Oscar Pistorius heard his sentence, video courtesy of Global Leaks Youtube Channel;