Oscar Pistorius’ closing statements have been given, and Judge Thokozile Masipa will announce a verdict on September 11. Judge Masipa and two assessors will evaluate over 4,000 pages of evidence during the next few weeks before handing down the judgment. Opinions of legal experts claim the view of Judge Masipa will center on the integrity of Pistorius testimony.
Pistorius’ trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, who died on February 14, 2013, has been long and exhausting. Pistorius claims he shot an intruder at his home in Pretoria and never had intentions of harming his girlfriend. Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and three other charges brought against him for contravening the Firearms Control Act.
During closing arguments in the North Gauteng High Court, the state said Pistorius was guilty of murder. Gerrie Nel said that Pistorius knew there was a person in the toilet and had intentions of killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Nel said that if Pistorius knew there was a person in the toilet then he is guilty of murder, and when somebody shoots to kill there must be retribution following the action. Nel stated that although Pistorius said he wanted to shoot the intruder and not his girlfriend, it does not alter the fact that it was murder. Nel claims Steenkamp was shot after an argument pursued. Nel said, “The defense provided mutually exclusive evidence that was mutually destructive.”
Pistorius’ defense lawyer attacked the investigators during his closing statements. Roux claimed that no respect was given by police officers at the crime scene at which Reeva Steenkamp died. Roux claimed the cross-examination was extremely unfair during the trial. During the trial, Roux presented photos of a police officer, touching a plug in the bedroom, and the same officer denied this under cross-examination. During this stage of the trial, Pistorius, faced intense questioning about the plugs in the bedroom, and the prosecuting team suggested that Pistorius’ version was a lie.
Roux challenged the state’s inconsistencies during the trial and discharged their evidence as inaccurate. In the closing argument, Roux summed up the case by telling the judge that if the finding of Pistorius’ actions were reasonable, he should be acquitted. Roux said that if the intention to kill was not proved, a murder charge would be impossible.
After an exhausting six months of riveting courtroom drama, which was viewed and followed by millions all over the world, in one more month the verdict will determined. During this time, Pistorius often lost control and gave conflicting versions of the moment he shot through the locked toilet door, admitting it was both deliberate and accidental.
Pistorius could face up to 25 years in prison if found guilty of murder. Pistorius could end up in jail for 20 years if Judge Masipa convicts him of a lesser crime of murder without premeditation. A charge of culpable homicide could be levied against Pistorius, based on negligent shooting, should the judge not be entirely convinced of the intent to kill. The possibility of Pistorius firing the shots in self-defense could lead to an acquittal of charges.
During the high-profile case over the last six months, the South African justice system and prisons were reviewed by international media, shedding a truth on the existing conditions. Reports of overcrowding in prisons, inadequate sanitation, and medical care were analyzed. Laurie Pieters, a criminologist, believes that Pistorius would be targeted for his disability and fame. Pieters thinks Pistorius could endure harassment for his money and might end up paying for protection inside the South African jails.
After closing arguments in court yesterday, Pistorius took to Twitter to thank his loved ones and people standing beside him during the trial. Another month and Oscar Pistorius will know his fate when the verdict is announced by Judge Masipa on September 11.
By Laura Oneale