'Oscar Pistorius's life wasn't in danger'

The Supreme Court of Appeal this morning found Oscar Pistorius guilty of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.

FILE: Oscar Pistorius. Picture: Pool.

BLOEMFONTEIN - In convicting Oscar Pistorius of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, the Supreme Court of Appeal has ruled that the athlete had no rational basis to believe his life was in danger when he fired four shots into a toilet cubicle door.

Pistorius murdered Steenkamp on Valentine's Day almost three years ago, claiming he feared for his life because he believed an intruder was inside his Pretoria home.

WATCH: Oscar Pistorius' conviction overturned to murder

In 2014 he was found guilty of culpable homicide and was in prison for just under a year. Last month he was released from prison to serve out the remainder of his five-year sentence at home.

The State appealed the conviction on the grounds that it believed Masipa incorrectly applied the legal principles to the facts - further saying she incorrectly applied the legal principle of dolus eventualis.

The Paralympian's case has now been referred back to court for re-sentencing.

WATCH: Behind the Door: Reeva flushed the toilet

Judge Eric Leach found that not only did Pistorius not know who was behind the door of the toilet cubicle, but he also did not know whether that person constituted any threat at all.

#OscarPistorius Leach: almost all the shots fired through the door would inevitably have struck the deceased. There was nowhere to hide. BB

"In these circumstances, although he may have been anxious, it is inconceivable that a rational person could've believed that he was entitled to fire at this person with a heavy caliber firearm, without even taking that most elementary precaution of firing a warning shot."

Leach says when considering all the evidence, Pistorius's conduct was unlawful.

"He must have foreseen and therefore did foresee that the person he was firing at behind the door might be fatally injured. Yet, he fired without having a rational or general fear that his life was in danger.

#OscarPistorius Leach: in the interest of justice, culpable homicide must be set aside and replaced with correct conviction. B

#OscarPistorius Leach: the trial was conducted in glare of international attention must have added to heavy rigours of conducting a trial.

The Pistorius family say they're considering the judgment and will be guided by their legal team going forward.

#OscarPistorius family statement… no comment. BB pic.twitter.com/YN85t7IpjL


In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Appeal found that High Court Judge Thokozile Masipa made errors in law when convicting the former athlete of culpable homicide.

It also criticised Masipa for ignoring crucial evidence.

Leach read out a summary of the judgment saying the High Court ignored certain circumstantial evidence.

"The failure to take into account must be regarded as an error of law. Consequently, the first two questions reserved for decision must be answered in favour of the prosecution, to the extent that I have indicated."

Leach said based on certain evidence that was ignored and the incorrect application of dolus eventualis, there has been an error in law.

"The conclusion of the trial court that the accused had not foreseen a possibility of death occurring, as he had not had the direct intent to kill, shows that an incorrect attest was applied."

The matter has been referred back to Masipa for sentencing.


Questions are now being asked about what will now happen to Pistorius and whether he will continue to stay at his uncle's Waterkloof home or if he must report back to prison.

According to many experts, there is no real precedent to go on and even the prosecutors aren't entirely sure what should happen next.

In the SCA's judgment, the high court's conviction and sentence is set aside and the conviction is replaced but the sentence is not. This means there will have to be an entirely new sentencing hearing next year.

Most agree that Pistorius will remain under correctional supervision at his uncle's home until that hearing is completed.

But as advocate Mannie Wits explains, prosecutors could decide to ask the high court to send him back to prison in the interim.

"Sometimes with matters like this they can say 'Right, you'll be getting a sentence of direct imprisonment so you might as well go back in and start serving.' But then he has his rights."

That could mean that Pistorius may have to bring a bail application to stay out of jail.

For the full judgment click here.

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