Ilse de Lange
3 minute read
24 Nov 2017
3:44 pm

Oscar not remorseful – Supreme Court of Appeal

Ilse de Lange

'I find it difficult on the evidence to accept that the respondent is genuine remorseful,' the judge said.

25 Mar 2014, Pretoria, Tshwane, South Africa --- Pretoria, South Africa. 25th March 2014 -- Oscar Pistorius pictured arriving for trial day 15 of his murder trial in the killing of his girlfriend. The trial was adjourned until Friday 28th March, 2014 for the defense to finalize its consultation with its witnesses. -- Oscar Pistorius' murder trial has been adjourned until Friday 28th March, 2014 for the defense to finalize its consultation with its witnesses as the state confirmed that is is satisfied with the witnesses it already presented at the trial. --- Image by © Frans Sello waga Machate/Demotix/Corbis

Oscar Pistorius had no appreciation for the gravity of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and displayed a lack of remorse, the Supreme Court of Appeal found before unanimously increasing his sentence to 13 years and five months imprisonment.

Judge Willie Seriti, with four other Appeal Court Judges concurring, ruled that the 6-year sentence Judge Thokozile Masipa imposed on Pistorius in July 2016 when she re-sentenced him for murder was “shockingly lenient to a point where it has the effect of trivialising this serious offence”.

The court severely criticised Pistorius, who was well-trained in the use of firearms, for never firing a warning shot, and not testifying in mitigation to explain why he had fired the four fatal shots that killed his girlfriend, despite being given the chance to do so.

“I find it difficult on the evidence to accept that the respondent is genuine remorseful… (He) has failed to explain why he fired the fatal shots. (He) failed to take the court fully into his confidence.

“To my mind (his) attempt to apologise to the deceased’s family does not demonstrate any genuine remorse on his part… It is clear that (he) is unable to appreciate the crime he has committed,” Judge Seriti said.

He found that Judge Masipa had over-emphasised Pistorius’ personal circumstances and gave undue weight to rehabilitation against the other purposes of punishment, being prevention, deterrence and and retribution.

Judge Seriti said the circumstances of the case demanded the imposition of the minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment, but Pistorius should receive credit for the 12 months and 7 months of correctional supervision he had already spent.

Judge Masipa initially found Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide and in October 2014 sentenced him to five years imprisonment, but re-sentenced him to six years after the state appealed and the SCA in December 2015 found him guilty of murder.

The SCA said at the time Pistorius had given so many contradicting versions about why he had shot at the toilet door that one really did not know what his explanation was for having fired the fatal shots.

After Judge Masipa initially refused leave to appeal against the sentence, the State approached the SCA, arguing that six years imprisonment for murder was shockingly inappropriate and would set a bad precedent.

Pistorius, a double amputee whose legs were amputated at the age of one because of a congenital defect, rose to prominence as a Olympic sprinter competing against able-bodied athletes.

He was not wearing his prosthesis when he fired four shots with his 9mm pistol, using lethal black gallon-type ammunition, into the toilet door in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013, believing there was an intruder in the small cubicle after hearing a noise inside.

When he realised Reeva, who had spent the night with him, was not in the bedroom, he broke open the toilet door, found her slumped over the toilet bowl and took steps in an attempt to save her life.

Pistorius explained that he had not fired a warning shot as he thought he might be harmed if the bullet ricocheted.

A ballistics expert testified that Pistorius’ 9mm pistol was a heavy-caliber firearm and the ammunition he used mushroomed on striking a soft moist target such as human flesh, causing devastating wound.

Reacting to the sentence, Pistorius’ brother Carl said on twitter: “Shattered. Heartbroken. Gutted”.

The NPA said the six-year sentenced was shockingly low and if they had allowed it to stand, it would have set a bad precedent.

The Organisation Justice for Victims tweeted that 13 years was “still no justice”.

It’s a Black Friday for Oscar Pistorius as his sentence gets doubled

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