Oscar Pistorius and his sentence caused outrage last week when he only received a 5 year sentence with the potential for release in 10 months. That judgement is now going to be appealed.
The prosecution have appealed against both the conviction of Mr Pistorius and also against the sentence which was handed down.
His five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide, effectively manslaughter here in the UK, triggered outrage from many who did not believe Pistorius’ claim to have shot her mistakenly through a door after mistaking her for an intruder.
The prosecution failed to demonstrate to the judge that he had killed Reeva Steenkamp in a fit of rage during an argument and they were also unable to secure a conviction for premeditated murder, which can carry up to a 25-year sentence.
On Monday, a spokesman for South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority says prosecutors will appeal the verdict and sentencing. Spokesman Nathi Mncube said that the next step is to file papers in court.
The women’s league of the African National Congress said at the time: “It is the organisation’s view that an appeal is in the interests of justice, as well as to send a strong message to the public that crimes against women should carry the maximum penalty. We hold that regardless of who Mr Pistorius believed to be behind the bathroom door that fateful night, he shot to kill and therefore a murder did occur.”
Under South Africa law, prosecutors can only appeal against a verdict on a point of law, this means appeals don’t involve a fresh trial or any new evidence.
Currently the prevailing point that the state will argue seems to be that the judge, Thokozile Masipa, misinterpreted the law around dolus eventualis murder, which means a perpetrator objectively foresees the possibility of his act causing death and persists regardless of the consequences. In layman’s terms it means that if you can imagine shooting through a door could kill someone then you are guilty. Masipa ruled that this did not apply to Pistorius, but that he was grossly negligent.
The Sunday Times has also claimed that Pistorius, received preferential treatment on his arrival in the hospital section of the prison in Pretoria last week, including meetings with the prison head, prison chaplain and a psychologist.
If this level of leniance is being shown already then I fear for how this will turn our for Pistorius. The public perception is already that he has not had justice done against him and that the sentence was not harsh enough. As I said in my last article, your opinion on whether he should spend more time in prison depends at least partially on your perception of prisons. He will in all likelihood spend more than 10 months in prison, by the time he gets out we will truly know if he is a changed man by this. We will soon find out if he is able to make the world better when he comes out. I hope that at least he will try, in memory of Reeva Steenkamp.