Court to hear why convicted former athlete deserves longer sentence

Wednesday November 01 2017
Pistorius PIX

Oscar Pistorius in the dock. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The Oscar Pistorius case returns to court on Friday as South African state prosecutors argue for a longer sentence for the former Paralympian.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) argues the six year sentence he is serving for killing his model girlfriend, Ms Reeva Steenkamp, was “shockingly low”.

The Paralympic medallist shot dead Ms Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013.

NPA is scheduled to present its case to a one-day hearing at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. Judges will then hand down their ruling at a later date.

Pistorius had initially been handed a culpable homicide conviction in 2014, but the sentence was upgraded in 2015 to murder following an appeal by the state.

READ: Prosecutors appeal 'shockingly lenient' Pistorius sentence


“We believe the sentence is shockingly low. The court has discretion to deviate from the minimum sentence for murder of 15 years, after considering the circumstances, but we say that you cannot go so far below.

“We cannot allow a situation where we create a precedent for a person sentenced for murder. It is inappropriate if you look at the gravity of the offence,” NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku, said.

At his sentencing last year, High Court Judge Thokozile Masipa listed mitigating factors, including the athlete’s claim he believed he was shooting an intruder.

“He cannot be at peace. I’m of the view that a long term of imprisonment will not serve justice,” Judge Masipa said.

Ms Steenkamp’s father, Barry, told the court that he wanted Pistorius to “pay for his crime”.

READ:Steenkamp's father says Pistorius must pay for his sins

Pistorius, 30, who was being held at the Atteridgeville Correctional Centre in Pretoria, will not be in court on Friday.

The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) recently said the former athlete was demonstrating good behaviour in prison.

He is classified as a group A medium inmate because he had shown ongoing good behaviour and participates in a variety of rehabilitation programmes.

Pistorius, who has been in jail for 15 months, still has to serve out two-years in prison, before he can be considered for parole.

However, should his six-year sentence be reviewed, Pistorius will serve a longer term.