It was a Black Friday for former paralympian Oscar Pistorius as the Supreme Court of Appeal increased his six-year sentence for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to 13 years and 5 months.
Reading out the court’s ruling in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, Judge Willie Seriti said Pistorius should have been sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment (the maximum sentence for murder that was not premeditated), but the court had taken into account the time he had already served.
The SCA therefore substituted his 6-year prison sentence with one of 13 years and five months.
Judge Thokozile Masipa initially convicted Pistorius in the High Court in Pretoria on a charge of culpable homicide for shooting Reeva to death behind a locked toilet door at his house in the east of Pretoria on Valentine’s day 2013.
She sentenced him in 2013 to five years’ imprisonment, but the state appealed against his culpable homicide conviction.
The SCA in 2016 set aside his conviction and found him guilty of murder, ruling that he should have and had foreseen that he could kill whoever was behind the toilet door.
Judge Masipa thereafter re-sentenced Pistorius to six years’ imprisonment, finding that there were substantial and compelling circumstances to deviate from the prescribed 15-year sentence.
The state appealed again, arguing that the sentence was too lenient for murder, and would set an unacceptable precedent.
Pistorius has always maintained that he thought there was an intruder when he fired four shots at the toilet door and that Reeva’s death was a tragic accident. He said he was in a state of panic as he was not wearing his prosthesis, felt vulnerable and wanted to protect himself and Reeva.
The state tried its best to prove that Pistorius had intentionally shot Reeva after and argument, but could never succeed with this attempt.
Reeva’s parents, Barry and June Steenkamp, have stated openly that they did not believe Pistorius’ version of how their daughter was killed.