Ricochet News

Oscar Pistorius' sentence extended from six years to over 13 years

Nov 24, 2017
Oscar Pistorius' sentence extended from six years to over 13 years

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein on Friday extended the six-year jail sentence given to former paralympian, Oscar Pistorius, to 13 years and five months after a successful appeal brought before the court by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

"The sentence imposed … with respect to murder is set aside and substituted with the following – the respondent’s imprisonment for 13 years and five months," Justice Legoabe Willie Seriti said

On the 2nd of November, the NPA made another bid in the Supreme Court of Appeals to have the former paralympian serve a longer sentence for killing his girlfriend, Port Elizabeth-born model, Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius was serving a six-year sentence for the murder, which took place on Valentines Day 2013, after the same Supreme Court overturned an earlier judgement that had found him guilty of culpable homicide.

The NPA, which successfully challenged Judge Thokozile Masipa's initial judgement that Pistorius was only guilty of culpable homicide at the same court, had argued that the Judge again erred when she sentenced Pistorius to only six years behind bars instead of the prescribed minimum of 15 years.

It was the NPA's argument that Judge Masipa was "too lenient" with Pristotius.

"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 after Masipa's judgement in July 2016.

"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, said then 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.

Controversial ruling

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 2015, 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 last year that they will not be appealing the sentence and said the State's latest appeal was 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 maintained 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.