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Oscar Pistorius may be out of prison in 8 months

Pistorius is eligible to apply for correctional supervision after serving about 8 months in prison.

Oscar Pistorius greets his father Henke at the High Court in Pretoria on 21 October 2014. Picture: Pool.

PRETORIA - Having spent his first night in prison, Oscar Pistorius can perhaps find some comfort in Judge Thokozile Masipa's ruling that the court's doors are open to him if he believes he is not being treated fairly.

Masipa sentenced the athlete to five years imprisonment, but in terms of legislation, he is eligible to apply for correctional supervision after serving about eight months.

Pistorius was also given a three-year suspended sentence for a gun-related charge for which he was found guilty of negligently discharging a firearm at Tasha's restaurant in Melrose Arch.

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

Judge Masipa says the Correctional Services Department is guided by the Constitution, which ensures Pistorius's rights as an offender.

"If any inmate were to feel that he was not being treated fairly and justly, he has a right to approach these courts to seek redress. Many inmates do so and they've never been turned away by these courts."

Masipa says Acting Correctional Services Commissioner Moleko Zac Modise has assured the court that Pistorius's healthcare needs would be catered for.

"There was therefore no reason to think that the accused might be forced to terminate any of the treatment that he was currently receiving."

The athlete's family says he has accepted his fate.

CLOSURE

Judge Masipa said she hoped the sentencing would offer some closure to the Steenkamp family.

She took her time on Tuesday to explain the reasons behind her decision to sentence Pistorius to five years in prison.

The judge said it's a delicate balance between the interests of the public and the interests of the accused.

She also considered the heartache and pain that Reeva's death caused her family and friends.

"Nothing I say or do today can reverse what happened to the deceased and to her family. Hopefully this judgment on sentence shall provide some sort of closure for the family and for all concerned, so that they can move on with their lives.

NPA TO STUDY CONVICTION & SENTENCE

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will spend the next two weeks closely assessing Pistorius's conviction and sentence.

The NPA says it's satisfied that the blade runner received a custodial sentence even though it was calling for 10 years behind bars.

The NPA's Nathi Mncube, however, says they're still not happy with the conviction.

"We were disappointed with the conviction on culpable homicide and we still maintain the same position. We have not made up our minds whether we're going to appeal it or not."

The state has 14 days to appeal while Pistorius's legal team has the same amount of time to appeal the sentence.

But at this stage there's no indication that they will choose that option.

The NPA says any possible appeal against the athlete's conviction will be based on points of law, not on the facts of the case.

Acting Deputy NPA head Willie Hofmeyr says they are now studying the judgement.

"There are issues that have been raised in the public domain about dolus eventualis and what it means but I think it's important for us to study the judgment carefully now and to see whether there is something that is appealable and whether we want to appeal it."

But Hofmeyr says the NPA will only appeal if there are genuine grounds and not due to any requests from the Steenkamp family.

"I don't think that we would consider that. You know, for us it's important to look purely at what the judgment was and whether there are aspects of the judgement that are important to have another court look at it because judgment in our courts create precedent."

STEENKAMP FAMILY 'WANT TO GET ON WITH THEIR LIVES'

Reeva's parents Barry and June say they now want to get on with their lives.

In an exclusive interview with Hello magazine, the Steenkamps say they believe the sentence was the best they could have expected.

June Steenkamp said the trial had been a terrible long journey and the sentence handed to the 27-year-old Paralympian was satisfactory.

She says her family was not looking for vengeance or for Pistorius to get hurt, but they're happy he will be punished for what he has done.

She added that while he may be released early, he may learn lessons in prison.

Barry Steenkamp said he was relieved the trial was over and he was looking forward to going home to his horses and the stable that he runs in Port Elizabeth.

June said she planned to carry on with her daughter's wishes of setting up a refuge for abused women and she would call it the Reeva Foundation in order to keep her name alive.

'A TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE'

Meanwhile, residents of Reeva's hometown in Port Elizabeth have already called on the state to appeal Pistorius's sentence.

Members of the Greenbushes community where the young model grew up reacted disbelievingly to Judge Masipa's ruling, with some even calling it 'a travesty of justice'.

Family friend Tyrone McLachlan says the NPA has no option but to appeal the sentence if justice is to be served.

"That type of sentence you give to a petty crime, a thief or something, not to a person that takes a life."

He says that while the Steenkamp family have accepted the court's ruling, the blade runner's five-year sentence won't allow them to truly move on with their lives.

"Reeva lost her life. How does a person get closure knowing that the person that murdered your child will be out in eight months' time?"

He says the case would have had a different outcome if Pistorius wasn't famous or wealthy.

"It just goes to show money talks. The man took a life and the law says you can't take a life."

For more on Oscar Pistorius, click here.

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