Oscar Pistorius, who was handed a sentence last month for his part in the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp, may get a stiffer sentence if the prosecutor’s request to appeal his conviction and request re-sentencing succeeds. Pistorius received a sentence of five years for Steenkamp’s death, whom he said he mistook for a robber hiding in his bathroom in his Pretoria apartment in February 2013. At the current sentence, he will be eligible for house arrest after 10 months. He is serving his sentence at the Kgosi Mampuru II in Pretoria, South Africa.
The National Prosecuting Agency’s spokesperson Nathi Mncube said the prosecution was based on the question of law. He did not provide additional details. The application documents filed indicate that the prosecution believes Judge Thokozile Masipa placed too much focus on Pistorius’s physical disability and psychological condition rather than the fact that he had ended Steenkamp’s life.
If the prosecutor’s request to appeal Oscar Pistorius’s current sentence succeeds, the National Prosecuting Agency will seek a stiffer sentence. The prosecution would have to convince judge Masipa that a different court could have arrived at a different conclusion. If the judge fails to give permission for the appeal, the NPA can petition South Africa’s Supreme Court to hear the matter.
Pistorius had both of his legs amputated at the age of 11 months below the knees. He competed in many athletic events in his early life, gaining recognition as a competitive runner in the Paralympic category. His persistent efforts to convince the IAAF to allow him to compete with the able-bodied in international competitions bore fruit. He became the first amputee to win an able-bodied world-track medal at the 2011 Athletics World Championships. At the summer Paralympics in the same year, he won gold medals in men’s 400-meter race, and also in the 4 x 100 meters relay, setting world records in both events.
June Steenkamp, Reeva’s mother, expressed disappointment when Judge Masipa dismissed the murder charges against Pistorius in September. She said that he had gotten off too easily. She told NBC at the time that while the court believed his story, she did not . She added that she did not care what would happen to him since whatever happened to him would not bring her daughter back.
After the appeal was filed, however, June Steenkamp said that her family would like to talk to Pistorius. According to a report in the Daily News, she said they would like to personally question Pistorius over the murder of their daughter. She said he had asked to speak to them during the trial period but they did not feel they were ready at the time.
Many South Africans expressed shock at Judge Masipa’s decision to jail Pistorius for five years for the culpable murder of Steenkamp last month. According to TIME, South Africans voiced their anger through radio station talk shows and Twitter, with some callers stating that all murderers would be lucky to have Judge Masipa to preside over their cases. The International Paralympic Committee that awarded Pistorius six medals during his career said he will be banned for five years. The decision by the National Prosecuting Agency to appeal for a stiffer sentence for Oscar Pistorius may offer some form of satisfaction to those who feel that he got off too easily with SteenKamp’s murder if the appeal succeeds.
By Benedicto Ateku