Oscar Pistorius sentenced to 6 years for murdering Reeva Steenkamp

By @chelean on
Oscar Pistorius
South African Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius attends his sentencing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria October 21, 2014. Reuters/Themba Hadebe/Pool

Oscar Pistorius has been handed a six years’ sentence for murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The disgraced South African spring runner was immediately taken back to the Kgosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old Paralympic gold medallist’s sentence was increased from culpable homicide to murder by the Supreme Court of Appeal in December. He had already served 12 months in prison of his five-year term.

Judge Thokozile Masipa handed Pistorius six years of jail sentence this time, which critics say is still too lenient for a murder charge. The sentence is less than half the 15-year minimum term the prosecutors had asked for.

Masipa, who also heard the original trial, was already criticised for giving Pistorius a lesser charge of culpable homicide, equivalent to manslaughter, instead of murder in 2014. Her most recent sentencing of the disgraced Paralympian has also attracted criticisms from women’s groups, which claim the sentence was too lenient.

“Public opinion may be loud and persistent, but it can play no role in the decision of this court,” the judge said, explaining that a longer prison term would not serve justice. She said that mitigating circumstances outweighed the aggravating circumstances, justifying why she gave Pistorius a six-year term instead of the prescribed 15 years.

She acknowledged the Steenkamp family’s lost, but said Pistorius, who is known as the Blade Runner, has also suffered. “The life of the accused shall also never be the same,” Masipa said, calling Pistorius a “fallen hero.”

The state has two weeks to appeal the sentence. Pistorius’ legal team, however, said he would not appeal. Dup de Bruyn, lawyer for the Steenkamps, seemingly indicated that the family has accepted the sentencing and would not appeal anymore.

“The law has run its course,” he was quoted by IOL as saying. “There is nothing we can do now.”

On Feb. 14, 2013, Pistorius fatally shot Steenkamp at his home. He fired four shots, claiming he mistook the South African model for an intruder.