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Oscar Pistorius sentenced to 5 years in prison

The judge has handed down a sentence of 5 years in prison to Oscar Pistorius.

Oscar Pistorius holds the hands of family members as he is taken down to the holding cells after being sentenced to five years imprisonment for the culpable homicide death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Picture: Pool.

PRETORIA - Convicted killer Oscar Pistorius has been handed a sentence of five years in prison by Judge Thokozile Masipa in the High Court in Pretoria.

He was sentenced to five years for culpable homicide and three years, wholly suspended for the Tasha's shooting.

The two sentences will run concurrently.

The athlete had a brief word with his uncle Arnold before being led straight to the cells.

There's been no mention of any appeal yet.

On 12 September 2014, Masipa ruled that Pistorius was guilty of culpable homicide in the death of Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot and killed on Valentine's Day 2013.

MASIPA HANDS DOWN SENTENCING

Judge Masipa began handing down the sentence by going through the testimonies of witnesses in aggravation and mitigation of sentence.

She recounted Steenkamp's cousin Kim Martin's testimony.

"She described the deceased as someone who loved people, who loved mixing with people and hosting. She was very good in front of a camera and landed her first permanent job in Johannesburg in Fashion TV."

Masipa also referred to Pistorius's achievements as an athlete, going over submissions regarding community service and the testimony from the Correctional Services Department.

She said she was unimpressed with defence witness Annette Vergeer's testimony in mitigation of sentence, adding that Vergeer's testimony had a negative impact on her credibility.

"Her method of investigation in respect of prison conditions and her use of out-dated information concerning prisons in particular was slap-dash, disappointing and had a negative impact on her credibility as a witness."

The judge said Pistorius's contribution to society could not be ignored but ought to be put in perspective.

She said there was an over-emphasis on the athlete's disability.

"I listened to one witness after another placing what I thought was an over-emphasis on the accused's vulnerability. Yes, the accused was vulnerable, but he also has excellent coping skills."

NPA TO DECIDE ON APPEAL

NPA boss Mxolisi Nxasana says they will have to study the record and consult with the state's prosecution team before deciding on any appeal in the Pistorius case.

Nnxasana was asked about a possible appeal against the Paralympian's conviction or sentence or both while briefing parliament's justice committee earlier today.

"We'll have to study the record, consult with the prosecution team and then we'll take the matter forward."

An armoured police vehicle carrying Pistorius left the High Court in Pretoria shortly before midday and has now arrived at the Kgosi Mampuru Prison.

The arrival of the athlete at the correctional facility is being eagerly anticipated by the small group of people gathered outside.

Pistorius will be brought in the police nyala before being allocated his incarceration number.

The blade runner is expected to undergo an assessment within six hours of his arrival.

Outside the prison gates journalists and ordinary members of the public are still discussing the sentence, with many saying the court has been very lenient.

PUBLIC REACTION OUTSIDE COURT

Many South Africans began condemning Masipa's ruling just minutes after it was read out in court.

One man says he's not happy with the verdict.

"I am not happy with the conviction of culpable homicide so I think the conviction is very light. I know he is going to be out in about two years on parole."

A woman says she doesn't feel safe anymore.

"Look at our law, if it's housebreaking, they can sentence someone for less than 10 years but for killing someone, it's unfair. As a woman, what is my safety?"

REEVA'S HOME TOWN REACTS

There has been mixed reaction in Steenkamp's hometown of Port Elizabeth, where friends and family had called for the blade runner to be sentenced to at least 10 years behind bars.

There's a sombre mood at the Steenkamp family restaurant as friends close to the family try to absorb Masipa's sentence.

Sighs of disappointment could be heard as Masipa delivered Pistorius's sentence and many shook their heads in disbelief with their eyes glued to television screens.

One man told Eyewitness News justice had definitely not been served, as an innocent woman had died and the punishment did not fit the crime.

Another family friend says that while he is not completely satisfied, he hasn't lost faith in South Africa's judiciary as he was expecting Pistorius to walk free without serving any jail time.

The pub has now emptied as patrons return to their jobs and homes.

Click here for more on Oscar Pistorius.

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

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