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Prison or house arrest? Oscar Pistorius to learn his fate today

Pistorius will today be sentenced for shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Oscar Pistorius leaves the North Gauteng High Court after the first day of sentencing arguments in his murder trial. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

PRETORIA - Convicted killer Oscar Pistorius is just hours away from knowing his fate.

Will he spend the next few years in jail or be confined to his uncle's Waterkloof mansion?

Judge Thokozile Masipa will hand down the athlete's sentence in the High Court in Pretoria today.

Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide last month for the 2013 Valentine's Day shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Judge Masipa is expected to take no longer than an hour to hand down her sentence.

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel wants the Paralympian to pay for killing Steenkamp, saying the court owes it to society and for Pistorius to be an example to future offenders.

"The minimum term that society will be happy with, will be a 10 year imprisonment term."

The state also called Acting Commissioner for Correctional Services, Moleko Zac Modise, to testify in aggravation of sentence.

He said prisons are able to cater for disabled people.

The court heard that if the athlete is jailed, he would probably spend time in the hospital section of the Pretoria Central Prison.

Defence advocate Barry Roux however says Pistorius can be rehabilitated and help society, if given the chance to do community service.

He believes no sentence could be worse than what his client is enduring.

"It is that permanent, excruciating pain that it's you who caused the death of a loved one. It is you. That will never go away, whatever punishment… lifelong."

Roux has suggested that the athlete be sentenced to house arrest and community service.

Pistorius's friends and family have arrived at his uncle's mansion in Waterkloof for what could be the blade runner's last day as a free man.

Pistorius is due to leave the house shortly and will make his way to the High Court.

At the same time, criminal law expert Tyrone Maseko says it's difficult to predict what the judge decision will be.

But he believes correctional supervision is highly unlikely.

"It could be anything really, I don't expect it to be anything beyond 10 years, although the maximum sentence for culpable homicide is 15 years, it really is difficult to say."

Meanwhile in Port Elizabeth, friends of the Steenkamp family say they are sceptical justice will be served.

While the world's eyes will be on the High Court in Pretoria, friends and loved ones in Reeva's hometown are expected to gather at the Steenkamp family restaurant to hear the result of the trial.

Tyrone McLachlan, who has been a race horse trainer with Barry Steenkamp, says while Pistorius should never have been acquitted of murder, he is hoping for the harshest possible sentence.

"I really hope he gets the maximum sentence. Believe me, if I had my way, 25 years would be too little for him."

He says should Judge Masipa side with the defence and place the blade runner under correctional supervision, South Africa's judiciary would be the laughing stock of the world.

McLachlan says that while the focus today will be on Pistorius, the Steenkamp family's pain must not be forgotten.

Click here for more on Oscar Pistorius.

Follow the court proceedings live on EWN's Oscar Pistorius trial blog.

Click here to view the state's closing argument.

Click here to view the defence's closing argument.

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