The South Africa Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA), on Dec. 3, 2015, convicted Oscar Pistorius of murder for shooting to death Reeva Steenkamp in 2013. This verdict overturns an earlier conviction of culpable homicide, which was handed down by the North Gauteng High Court. The Paralympian now faces a prescribed minimum punishment of 15 years in prison after the judgment by the SCA in Bloemfontein, South Africa.
Judge Lorimer Leach, who delivered the judgment, told the court that Pistorius was “guilty of murder,” and had “criminal intent.” The SCA has thus referred the case back to the “trial court to consider an appropriate sentence.”
The SCA held that Judge Masipa, who presided in the North Gauteng High Court, did not apply correctly the principles of dolus eventualis. Justice Leach said the double amputee should have foreseen the consequences of firing at an “intruder behind a closed door of a small bathroom.” He also added that the failure by the previous court to consider the compelling ballistic evidence presented by the State was in itself an error of law.
The 29-year-old’s fate now hangs in the balance. He faces 15 years behind bars, but his defense team can prove “substantial and compelling circumstances,” so as to avoid the prescribed minimum sentence. Pistorius, who was released from prison on Oct. 19, 2015 after serving one-sixth of his five-year sentence, may again find himself in prison.
By Shepherd Mutsvara
News24: Oscar Pistorius Guilty of Murder – Not Culpable Homicide
Independent Online: Oscar Guilty of Murder
Image Courtesy of Jim Thurston’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License