Pretoria – Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to five years behind bars for culpable homicide after a seven-month trial in the North Gauteng High Court for the death of Reeva Steenkamp at his luxury Pretoria home in February 2013.
Judge Thokozile Masipa handed down her sentence shortly after 10:30AM yesterday.
“Count 1, culpable homicide, sentence imposed is maximum of five years.”
He was also sentenced to three years in jail, suspended for five years, for discharging a firearm in a Johannesburg restaurant. Both sentences will run concurrently.
Pistorius will be eligible for his sentence to be commuted to correctional supervision after 10 months.
In terms of Section 276 of the Criminal Procedure Act, the accused may serve one-sixth of the sentence. For a five-year sentence, this would amount to 10 months.
“I have taken into account the seriousness of the offence which led to the death of the deceased, the personal circumstances of the accused, and the interests of society,” Judge Masipa said during sentencing.
“I’m of the view that a non-custodial sentence would send the wrong message. A long sentence would also not be appropriate either as it would lack the element of mercy.
“If sentences are too lenient, the administration of justice will fall into disrepute and people will take law into their own hands.
“A suspended sentence wouldn’t be appropriate in my view,” Masipa said.
“The loss of life can’t be reversed. Hopefully judgment on sentence will provide some sort of closure for all concerned.”
As she concluded her summary of the evidence during sentencing, Masipa addressed the paralympic athlete: “Mr Pistorius please rise.”
He stood up, pinched his nose between thumb and forefinger and adjusted the microphone in front of him, which had been switched on.
Pistorius stood still, hands clasped in front of him and showed no reaction as he heard the sentence.
When Masipa had finished, prosecutor Gerrie Nel stood up and said, “As the court pleases”.
Barry Roux, for Pistorius, did the same.
Nel then addressed Masipa on aspects of the Tasha’s shooting sentence.
Masipa shuffled the papers in front of her and thanked both counsel for their work. Pistorius’ therapist Lore Hartzenberg cast a concerned glance at Pistorius, standing in front of her.
As the court adjourned, a weepy-looking Pistorius made his way out of the dock and down the stairs to the holding cells.
As he descended the first steps he touched the hands of four relatives standing above him, including his uncle Arnold and aunt Lois.
His brother Carl went down the steps soon after that.
Steenkamp’s father Barry said outside the court: “[I am] satisfied with the sentence . . . [its] now time to go home.”
His wife June then walked in front of him as they made their way to their car.
During the trial, the Steenkamps were present on some days, along with family and friends. Barry Steenkamp broke down in court as his niece Kim Martin told the court last week she was Reeva’s voice.
Martin was the only Steenkamp family member to take the stand. She said Barry Steenkamp had said he would “lose it” if he had to testify.
Pistorius’ sister Aimee and brother Carl gave interviews to television broadcasters CNN and eNCA on Monday, talking about how “very taxing” the last few months have been.
“It’s been a taxing 20 months for us . . . The landscape of our lives remains forever changed,” Carl said during the interview.
On September 12, Masipa found Pistorius guilty of the culpable homicide of model and law graduate Steenkamp, but not guilty of her murder.
Pistorius had claimed he thought there was a burglar in his toilet when he fired four shots through the locked door in the early hours of February 14 last year, killing Steenkamp.
Masipa found Pistorius guilty of discharging a firearm in public, when he shot from his friend Darren Fresco’s Glock pistol under a table at Tasha’s restaurant in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, in January 2013.
Pistorius was found not guilty on two firearms-related charges – illegal possession of ammunition, and shooting through the open sunroof of a car with his 9mm pistol while driving with friends in Modderfontein on September 30, 2012.
Pistorius was driven away from the North Gauteng High Court at noon accompanied by wailing police sirens, to begin serving his five-year jail term.
Curious onlookers, journalists and cameramen had been waiting at the court’s Paul Kruger Street entrance, where the Nyala had been parked in front of a roller door, its engine idling.
Due to construction work the street had been turned into a dirt road and was closed to traffic. People stood on the edge of the trenches that had been dug alongside the entrance.
One cameraman had climbed into a jacaranda tree. Others were perched on the roof of the building opposite.
Meanwhile, Pistorius may end up spending only 10 months in prison for the culpable homicide of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a justice department spokesperson said yesterday.
“Five years in terms of [Section] 276 of the Criminal Procedure Act means the accused serves one-sixth of the sentence, which is 10 months,” spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said on his Facebook wall referring to the sentence handed down to Pistorius in the North Gauteng High Court.
“And an offender or inmate can be considered for placement under correctional supervision which is processed by correctional services.” – News24\Sapa