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We want to be a friend of the court – ANCWL

The ANC Women's League will apply to be a friend of the court if an appeal in the Oscar Pistorius case went ahead, the league said on Tuesday.

“We will register as a friend of the court, if the NPA appeals,” said ANCWL spokeswoman Jacqui Mofokeng.

Sentencing procedures in the case against Pistorius are currently underway in the High Court in Pretoria.

Last month, Judge Thokozile Masipa found Pistorius not guilty of murder but convicted him of culpable homicide for the Valentine’s Day 2013 shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his Pretoria townhouse.

He has maintained throughout that he thought she was an intruder.

On Monday, the league’s president Angie Motshekga had a meeting with the National Prosecuting Authority to express her organisation’s desire for an appeal in the matter.

“We are requesting the NPA to look at an appeal. We are not even happy at the verdict… We never thought the judgment would go this way.”

Mofokeng said the NPA had requested that the ANCWL wait until the sentencing was over.

She said that, if, in a possible appeal, the ANCWL was granted the status of a friend of the court, it would collaborate with the Progressive Womens’ Movement, and even possibly the ANC Youth League, to appoint a legal representative.

In terms of the law, a person or group not directly connected to a case can apply for the position of amicus curiae – a friend of the court – if they feel their interests or knowledge are relevant to proceedings.

As a friend of the court, Mofokeng said the ANCWL’s unhappiness with the legal understanding of culpable homicide could be raised by its representative.

She said that the league believed that culpable homicide should be graded according to degrees of severity, as otherwise it covered such a broad range of actions, that “we don’t know where it stops”.

Mofokeng said ANCWL wanted to investigate the issues of law that had affected cases like the Pistorius one.

“These are a worry for all of us…If we are awarded the opportunity, we are lawmakers and in the ruling party, [and can thus] question the issue of culpable homicide.”

In South African law, culpable homicide is considered to be the killing of a human being through negligence – as opposed to intention.

Sentencing options are broad, ranging from being fined, to receiving a suspended sentence or being placed under correctional supervision such as house arrest.

Imprisonment is not mandatory but jail time of up to 15 years can be stipulated in the sentence.

On Tuesday, the court heard argument for Pistorius’s defence that sending the paralympian to jail would “break” him – and for the prosecution, that his disability was not an excuse to avoid going to prison for killing Steenkamp.

Pistorius has also been found guilty of discharging a firearm in public during an incident at a Johannesburg restaurant.

Two other firearm-related charges were dismissed.


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