Pistorius sentence a balance between mercy and retribution

Thokozile Masipa says correctional supervision would have undermined trust in the justice system.

Oscar Pistorius during his sentencing at the High Court in Pretoria on, 21 October 2014. Picture: Pool.

PRETORIA - While handing down her sentence for convicted killer Oscar Pistorius in the High Court in Pretoria today, Judge Thokozile Masipa emphasised the importance of striking a balance between mercy and retribution.

She says correctional supervision for Oscar Pistorius would have undermined trust in the South African justice system.

Pistorius was sentenced to five years for culpable homicide for shooting and killing Reeva Steenkamp, and three years, wholly suspended, for the Tasha's shooting.

The two sentences will run concurrently.

Masipa says when sentencing an accused, justice must be seen to be done or society will lose trust in the system.

"If sentencing for serious crimes are too lenient the administration of justice may fall into disrepute and injured person may want to take the law into their own hands."

She further warned that in the case of Pistorius, she was mindful of perceptions.

"I might add that it would be a sad day for this country if there was an impression created that there is one law for the poor and the public and another law for the rich and famous."

The athlete is expected to serve about one year of his five-year sentence before he is eligible for correctional supervision.


Pistorius's family say they're grateful their harrowing 20-month ordeal has come to an end.

Arnold Pistorius has called on both the media and the public to allow his family time to deal with their emotions alone.

"We accept the court's judgment and Oscar will embrace the opportunity to pay back to society."

He says the blade runner has their full support.

"I hope he will start his healing process as he walks down the path of restoration and as a family we will support him."

Meanwhile, speaking shortly after sentencing this afternoon, Steenkamp's family say they feel justice has been served.

Furthermore, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has not yet indicated whether it plans to appeal.

Deputy director Silas Ramaite says senior prosecuting staff are "agitated" about the outcome of the case.

The NPA's Nathi Ncube said, "We will decide if we will appeal because it's not a straight forward matter matter and there are laws we must consider and cases we must study so that we can be able to support our case."

The state and the defence have 14 days to appeal.


The ANC Women's League, which has been supporting the Steenkamp family in court throughout the trial, says it's not satisfied by today's sentencing.

Spokesperson Khusela Sangoni-Khawe says, "There is no way that we can have a sentence that sends out this message and creates precedence that says it is okay to kill a woman because you are likely to get slap on the wrist."

She says that is why the league will be applying necessary pressures to the NPA requesting them to appeal the ruling.

The athlete arrived at the Kgosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria at lunchtime where he was taken through a back entrance to avoid the throng of journalists and members of the public.

As the state and defence lawyers mull over a possible appeal against the judgment, the Kgosi Mampuru correctional facility has officially received the blade runner and will now prepare him to serve his time.

Pistorius will now be subjected to a series of assessments which includes a strip search that is compulsory for all new detainees.

Pistorius will serve no less than ten months in this facility which is located on the outskirts of Pretoria central.

This morning the blade runner spent his last few hours as a free man surrounded by friends and family who had gathered at his uncle's home in Waterkloof.

Click here for more on Oscar Pistorius.

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