Pistorius awaits ‘harsher’ sentence

The SCA today overturned his culpable homicide conviction and sentence and found him guilty of murder.

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

JOHANNESBURG - Thirty-four months after he murdered Reeva Steenkamp, Oscar Pistorius is now waiting to hear when he must return to jail and for how long.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) today overturned the athlete's culpable homicide conviction and sentence and found him guilty of murder.

The appeals court has referred the matter back to the High Court to impose a harsher penalty after it clarified several crucial legal principles and delved into the human tragedy of Steenkamp's murder.

The SCA also criticised trial Judge Thokozile Masipa for her interpretation of the law and for ignoring evidence.

Judge Eric Leach says the wrong questions were asked when considering whether Pistorius is guilty of murder; dolus eventualis.

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

He also says key evidence was ignored.

"The failure or the court to take into account the evidence of Captain [Chris] Mangena, a police forensic expert whose evidence adds to the reconstruction of the crime scene, was found by the court to have been particularly useful is of particular importance."

The matter has been referred back to the High Court for sentencing.

WATCH: SCA: Oscar murdered Reeva

While today's judgment has far-reaching implications for South African courts, Judge Leach also honed in on the human tragedy of the Pistorius case.

"This case involves human tragedy of Shakespearian proportions."

Leach dealt with crucial legal principles but also showed the softer and tenderer side of an otherwise blind justice system.

"I trust those dear to her will forgive me if I refer to Miss Steenkamp at times by her given name of Reeva; to emphasise her identity."

He spoke about the bullets and the horrendous damage they inflicted.

"There had effectively been nowhere for the deceased to hide."

Judge Leach also made sure to unpack complex legal issues so that the wider audience could understand why Pistorius is guilty of murder.

WATCH: The moment Oscar Pistorius learnt his fate - Judge Thokozile Masipa hands down judgment

Meanwhile, Minister Masutha welcomed the murder conviction handed down to Pistorius.

He says it has now paved the way for the state, to follow through with appeals in such cases in future.

"In deserving cases, if they think there's merit in appealing the decision, they should be able to not hesitate in taking judgment they don't agree with."

The former athlete was released from prison last month to serve out the remainder of his five-year sentence under house arrest.

At the same time, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says its position has been vindicated by today's SCA judgment.

The NPA's Luvuyo Mfaku said, "As an institution, we welcome the judgment of the SCA. We will, moving forward, study the judgment and engage the relevant stakeholders in terms of charting a way forward."

For the full judgment click here.

_To read _ EWN 's feature on Oscar Pistorius's trial, click here.