Pistorius family 'deeply affected' by Steenkamp's death

Arnold Pistorius says the family never doubted the athlete’s version of events.

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius reacts as judgment is being handed down in his murder trial at the High Court in Pretoria on Friday, 12 September 2014. Picture: Pool.

PRETORIA - Oscar Pistorius's uncle Arnold says the family always knew the facts of the case and never doubted the athlete's version.

Addressing the media at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria a short while ago, Arnold said the family "would like to show how grateful we are for finding Oscar not guilty of murder."

He said the matter is still before the court and it would therefore not be proper to make comments on the merits of the case.

Arnold also said the family has been "deeply affected" by this devastating tragedy.

He said there are no victors in such a tragedy and the family remains affected by what has happened.

Pistorius, the double amputee who became one of the biggest names in athletics, shot dead his model and law graduate girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.

Since the news first broke on the morning of 14 February last year, the case has gripped millions around the world who saw Pistorius as the embodiment of triumph over adversity, a man whose lower legs were amputated as a baby but who reached the semi-finals of the 400 metres at the London Olympics in 2012.

PISTORIUS'S BAIL EXTENDED

Earlier, the judge extended Pistorius's bail until 13 October when sentencing proceedings will start.

She told the court that she had considered all options.

"I have used my discretion. In favour of the accused, I grant the application to extend the bail of the accused."

Masipa said the onus was on the state to provide sufficient reasons as to why Pistorius should not be granted extended bail - which in her view the state failed to do.

"This is not a schedule five or schedule six offence. For that reason, the onus is on the state to persuade this court that it was not in the interests of justice that the accused's bail be extended. I am not so persuaded."

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel had argued that the recent sale of assets by Pistorius could be an indication that he intended to skip bail and leave the country.

There were also concerns about whether Pistorius can be reintegrated into society, after his recent altercation at a Johannesburg nightclub.

Masipa, however, agreed with the defence team's argument that if Pistorius did not comply with any conditions, they could apply to a court to have the bail revoked.

The judge earlier convicted Pistorius of culpable homicide for killing Steenkamp.

Pistorius was also convicted of firing a pistol under the table of a packed Johannesburg restaurant but cleared of two other firearms charges - illegal possession of ammunition and firing a pistol out of the sunroof of a car.

Culpable homicide carries up to 15 years in prison but, given Pistorius's lack of previous convictions, he could avoid a custodial sentence altogether, legal experts said.

The Paralympic and Olympic athlete escaped the more serious charges of premeditated murder and murder.

Masipa based her culpable homicide decision on the fact Pistorius had acted negligently when he fired four shots from a 9mm pistol into a toilet door in his luxury Pretoria home, killing Steenkamp, who was behind it, almost instantly.

He said it was a tragic error after he mistook her for an intruder.

Masipa said the state failed to prove Pistorius intended to kill his girlfriend but that his negligent conduct led to the shooting.

Pistorius was led out of the court surrounded by heavily armed police.

REACTION

As Pistorius walked out of the court, he was greeted with loud cheers from the public.

One woman said she was glad the athlete's bail had been extended.

"He has suffered enough, so I am happy."

However, a man said he was disappointed in the justice system.

"If you have money, you can get good lawyers and you can somehow find the loopholes that exist in the justice system."

The large crowd outside the court quickly dispersed after the 'Blade Runner' was picked up in a white sedan.

A small group of people are still gathered outside the court.

Criminal lawyer William Booth said he's not surprised by Masipa's verdict.

Booth said Masipa made some interesting points while handing down judgment this morning.

"Interestingly, she pointed out she compared his conduct to that of somebody similar to him, in other words, someone with a similar disability and found that he had gone further than a reasonable person would have done in the circumstances."

Meanwhile, the National Prosecuting Authority said it was "disappointed" not to have secured a premeditated murder conviction, but would not make any decision about an appeal until after sentencing.

The NPA's Nathi Mncube said they were satisfied there was still a conviction.

At the same time, there's been mixed reaction to the final verdict in Steenkamp's home town of Port Elizabeth.

Some residents at the Steenkamp family's pub, The Barking Spider, say Judge Masipa has handed down an appropriate sentence while others are outraged.

For more on the trial, click here, or visit the live Oscar Pistorius blog.