Oscar Pistorius Trial: Judge Thokozile Masipa grants conviction appeal - but not sentence

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - DECEMBER 10, 2014

Judge Thokozile Masipa on Wednesday morning granted the State’s bid to appeal her conviction of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius on a charge of culpable homicide. Still, the bid to appeal the sentence she handed Pistorius has been denied.

The State had indicated at Pistorius’ sentencing in September that it would appeal the conviction and sentence as it believes both were inappropriately lenient.

Pistorius is already serving a five-year sentence after being found guilty of culpable homicide by Judge Masipa after he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp four times through a bathroom door on Valentine’s Day last year. Pistorius maintained that he believed that she was an intruder.

Incorrectly applied ‘dolus eventualis’

On Tuesday, State Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Judge Masipa incorrectly applied the legal principal of ‘dolus eventualis’ to the facts and that Pistorius should have been convicted of murder.

However, Pistorius’ defence advocate, Barry Roux, said that the judge got it right and that Nel was launching an application based on the facts of the case, which is not permitted.

The main points argued by counsel were whether the state raised questions of law or questions of fact.

Matters of fact or law

Masipa said both Nel, and Roux argued extensively about whether the appeal would be based on matters of fact or law.

She said that the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) must now answer these questions regarding her judgment.

"Whether the principles of ‘dolus eventualis’ were correctly applied. Whether the court correctly applied the legal principles pertaining to circumstantial evidence and or pertaining to multiple defences by an accused," Masipa said.

Application to appeal sentence denied

She denied the application appeal of Pistorious current five-year sentence for killing Steenkamp and rejected the state's description of it.

"I am not persuaded that there was any material misdirection or irregularity or that on the facts of this matter the sentence imposed is shockingly inappropriate and induces a sense of shock," Masipa said.

She went through the questions of law that the SCA must look at, specifically dolus eventualis and also ordered the State to pay the defence costs for the sentence appeal.

Masipa also dismissed the state’s claim that the huge public interest in the matter is considered a special circumstance. 

Photo caption: Judge Thokozile Masipa on Wednesday morning granted the State’s bid to appeal her conviction of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius on a charge of culpable homicide. Pistorius is already serving a five-year sentence after being found guilty of culpable homicide by Judge Masipa after he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp four times through a bathroom door on Valentine’s Day last year.