South African prosecutors are considering whether to appeal after disgraced athlete Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to just six years for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Double amputee runner Pistorius avoided the usual minimum punishment of 15 years in jail because judge Thokozile Masipa ruled that a long custodial term would “not serve justice”.
She rejected the clamour for severe punishment and accepted the defence’s argument that there were mitigating circumstances, adding: “Public opinion may be loud and persistent but it can play no role in the decision of this court.”
The 29-year-old six-time Paralympic champion was found guilty of murder in December, having initially been handed a five-year sentence on the lesser charge of manslaughter by Judge Masipa in 2014.
Pistorius, who admits shooting law graduate, model and TV personality Steenkamp dead at his home in the early hours of Valentines’s Day in 2013 but insists he mistook her for an intruder, is set to serve three years before being eligible for parole.
State prosecutors, who successfully petitioned for the charge to be upgraded to murder, have 14 days to decide whether to appeal the verdict again. The defence said it would only appeal to counter the state.
Women’s rights campaigner Jacqueline Mofokeng, of the African National Congress, called the verdict “an insult to women in this country”. She added of Judge Masipa: “First five years, now six years? She is an embarrassment to the justice system.”
Judge Masipa said the life of Pistorius, who served one year in prison before being let out on house arrest, “shall also never be the same. He is a fallen hero and can never be at peace.”