Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to six years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He shot her four times through the locked door of their bathroom in February 2013.
Initially Pistorius was given a five-year term for manslaughter, but was then found guilty of murder on appeal in December 2015 and taken straight to prison. The prosecution and defence can both appeal, but Pistorius’ lawyers say he will not.
He admitted shooting her, but said he mistook his girlfriend for an intruder and shot out of fear.
The judge said that rehabilitation and remorse outweighed aggravating factors – such as his failure to fire a warning shot – and led to the lesser sentence.
People are shocked by the sentence as it’s much less time than the prescribed minimum sentence of murder in South Africa, usually 15 years.
Some South Africans have described the sentence as an insult. The country has one of the highest murder rates across the world, so citizens believe that the short sentence will send the wrong message to potential offenders.
Legal experts have shared this view, saying the sentence was too little. One said, “The judge was sympathetic and empathetic to Pistorius. It was clear in the tone of her entire judgement.”
But, Judge Masipa said she’d carefully considered the case and that the sentence had to be fair to both Pistorius and Reeva’s family.