Today's Big Stories

Oscar sentence: could he appeal?

SPECIAL EDITION: the aftermath of Judge Thokozile Masipa's sentencing of Oscar Pistorius to five years in prison. Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide for shooting Reeva Steenkamp four times through a toilet door.

Pistorius' uncle, Arnold Pistorius gave this statement from the family:

The court has handed out judgement and we accept it. Oscar will embrace this opportunity to pay back to society. I appeal to all in the media to accept this ruling. I ask you, ladies and gentlemen of the media to move forward in this process, and give us some degree of dignity and privacy as we move forward. I want to say something as an uncle: I hope Oscar will start his own healing process as he walks down the path of restoration. As a family, we will guide Oscar as he serves out his sentence.

Could Pistorius appeal Judge Masipa’s sentencing?: EWN Correspondent Mandy Wiener thinks this isn’t likely:

That’s certainly the way that I read it, it was a short statement. Although Arnold didn’t rule out an appeal, it doesn’t seem like they would go that way. He (Arnold) was quite damning of the prosecution and the relentless nature of the prosecution to get the premeditated murder charge to fit. He’s (Arnold) also spoken of the drain on the Pistorius family, and they are quite a united family and he did look quite distressed.

What are some of the key points in Judge Masipa’s sentencing?: EWN Correspondent Barry Bateman runs through them:

There were several factors Masipa considered, including the degree of negligence, leading up to Steenkamp’s death, starting with the fact that he (Pistorius) picked up his firearm and he knew there was someone behind the door he fired at. She (Masipa) also looked at the demands of society: what is expected by society to ensure someone doesn’t do this again? She (Masipa) also wanted to make sure that her decision didn’t undermine trust in the legal system in the giving out of her sentence.

Do other affected ‘players’ have grounds for appeal?: ANCWL Spokesperson Khusela Sangoni says there are sufficient grounds to pursue appeal, in support of Reeva Steenkamp:

We disagree with the judge because the ANCWL is deeply outraged not only by sentencing but also on the judgement. We believe there is grounds for the NPA to pursue this case because we believe that Oscar Pistorius had an intent to shoot and kill, since we believe he knew there was someone behind that door. The legal opinion we’ve sought has indicated we have plenty of grounds to appeal and we are doing this because femicide is on the rise, where in South Africa, a woman is killed regularly every 8 hours by someone who is close to them. In looking at this case, Judge Masipa has erred and this needs to be looked at. Judge Masipa’s gender or race has got nothing to do with this matter. Had her (Masipa’s) gender or race been different, we would still be pursuing this action. We are inconsolably angry about this judgement and sentencing.

What's the scene where Pistorius was led to, following handing down of sentence?: EWN Correspondent Govan Whittles paints a picture:

What major developments happened in SA’s media due to the trial?: as the Oscar Pistorius has wended its way through the criminal justice system, one of the sectors of our society that may well have changed, is the media. For the first time in South Africa – and perhaps, the world – we had one television channel devoted to this case – Oscar Pistorius Trial Channel 199. The channel’s Executive Editor, George Mazarkis:

It was indeed an experiment and a tremendous success, with a huge contribution to society, by allowing ordinary citizens into a trial, because not everyone is allowed into a trial, but they can certainly watching it.

What was the overall impact of the trial on the media sector?: Caxton Professor of Journalism at WITS University, Anton Harber:

There’s been a number of significant developments in our media as a result of the trial. There was a pop-up channel (Oscar Extra), an innovation. I don’t think the channel (Channel 199) was meant to be financially viable really but it had wider-ranging effects on society. A significant shift in media pattern could also be seen in social media, where information would be broadcast there first. Newspapers – especially the weekend/Sunday newspapers - have more time to add analysis and I think our daily newspapers hurt during this period. This was an extraordinary case that brought together a number of extraordinary elements. It was a big learning curve all around and coverage of the courts won’t be the same again.

What are Pistorius’s legal options now?: criminal attorney Riaan Louw thinks it would be best if Pistorius doesn’t appeal the verdict:

I think it was a fair sentence, where she tried to balance between imprisonment and correctional service. We aren’t talking about murder any more, but culpable homicide. The Act makes provision for release only once having served one sixth of the sentence, which in this case is 10 months, pending assessment. There are certain conditions to be imposed there, including pertaining to working conditions, when to return home and or with alcohol consumption. Contravention of these conditions could mean more time in court. The State could also appeal this, if they felt the sentence is lenient, but I think it would be a good idea for Pistorius not to appeal.


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