Experts weigh in on Pistorius ruling

An attorney says the legal fraternity was expecting the SCA to find Oscar Pistorius guilty of murder.

FILE: Oscar Pistorius. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Several legal experts say the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA)'s judgment in the Oscar Pistorius matter is 'no surprise' and it clears up the matter of dolus eventualis for future cases.

The Bloemfontein court set aside the athlete's culpable homicide conviction and found him guilty of murder.

Judge Eric Leach says Pistorius failed to offer an acceptable explanation for firing four shots into his toilet cubicle door.

"As a matter of common sense at the time the shots were fired, the possibility of the death of the person behind the door was clearly an obvious result. In firing not one but four shots, such a result became even more likely. That is exactly what the accused did."

In the unanimous judgement, the court also found that judge Thokozile Masipa made errors in law and ignored certain circumstantial evidence when she convicted the athlete of culpable homicide for the 2013 Valentine's Day shooting of Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius is currently under house arrest and will now be re-sentenced.

According to attorney Tyrone Maseko, the legal fraternity was expecting the Supreme Court of Appeal to find him guilty of murder.

"Only because we always understood dolus eventualis in a particular setting."

Advocate Manny Witz says the judgment also made a strong pronouncement on how to deal with the question of law.

"We now have five judges who set out for the future and for the way the law must be developed in this country."

Pistorius will now be fighting for leniency when the matter goes back to the high court for sentencing next year.

WATCH: SCA: Oscar Pistorius murdered Reeva Steenkamp.


The SCA has ruled that the question of who was behind the door when Pistorius opened fire is irrelevant to the issue of criminal intent.

Leach says the identity of the victim was not the determining factor when deciding whether the athlete's conduct was lawful.

"What is was an issue therefore is not that the accused might have foreseen that Reeva was in the toilet cubicle when he fired the fatal shots at the door, but whether there was a person behind the door who might be killed by his actions."

LISTEN: EWN reporter Mandy Wiener gives implication of SCA ruling.

He found that the court failed to consider all the evidence.

"All of this was circumstantial evidence crucial to a decision and yet this was ignored by the trial court in its assessment of presence of dolus eventualis."

The court also dismissed the blade runner's defence that he was anxious and felt vulnerable because of his disability and instead found that he acted with intent when he shot and killed his girlfriend.

Leach says Pistorius's claims of being fearful and anxious cannot be accepted when one considers that after hearing a noise he armed himself and went to confront the perceived intruder.

"He is a person well trained in the use of firearms and was holding his weapon in the ready to shoot and when he became aware that there was someone behind the toilet door he fired four shots and he never offered an acceptable explanation for doing so."

Leach also says Pistorius was a poor witness throughout his trial.

"His evidence was so contradictory that one doesn't know his true explanation for firing the weapon."

For the full judgment click here.