IN a somewhat surprising decision, the Judge, Thokozile Masipa, the presiding judge in the original trial which found him guilty of culpable homicide, sentenced Oscar Pistorius to just six years imprisonment on July 6 for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
This is just one year more than his original sentence even though South African law implies a minimum sentence of 15 years. The judge said in her announcement that there were “substantial and compelling reasons” to deviate from the minimum sentence for murder as she is not convinced that he intended to murder Ms Steenkamp.
Judge Masipa left the courtroom soon after delivering the sentence but made it clear that she would be available to hear an appeal immediately if that was required. As there is no obvious case for an appeal from the defence, it must be assumed that she was leaving the door open for the prosecution to appeal the length of the sentence.
Under current law, it is likely that he will be able to apply for parole after serving two years of the new sentence, and although the defence had requested that he be allowed to undertake a non-custodial sentence, this was rejected out of hand, as an element of punishment for the crime committed had to be seen.