It has been just over a year since Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide for the Valentine’s Day 2013 killing of Reeva Steenkamp. Oscar’s guilty conviction, carried a 5-year-sentence, but came with provisions of probation that were at the discretion of the judge. Oscar Pistorius came up for parole in August 2015, and was hoping to carry out the remainder of his sentence on house arrest. However a technicality handed down from South Africa’s Justice Minister has kept his get out of jail free card in review limbo. Even if Pistorius is granted parole to house arrest soon, it will not be the last of his troubles. NBC Sports reported Sept. 22 that the Supreme Court of Africa could be gearing Pretoria, South Africa, up for Oscar Pistorius trial 2.0.
NBC Sports reports that the State has filed an appeal and is asking the Supreme Court to turn over the culpable homicide conviction and convict the Blade Runner of murder. This could mean a complete reversal, a new trial, or no changes to the Oscar Pistorius case. These moves are being considered victories by supporters of Oscar’s victim Reeva Steenkamp, who believe that Reeva Steenkamp was a victim of abuse at the hands of Oscar Pistorius.
As things stand right now for Oscar Pistorius though, he is still in prison. Or at least, he has not been released from custody. He is in no South African jail though, fighting riots and chaos with general population, as many Reeva Steenkamp supporters had been hoping. Instead he is in the hospital wing of Kgosi Mampuru II, a federal prison in Pretoria where he has been since October 2014.
He has been there since his conviction as part of his sentencing, when defense argued that Pretoria Central Prison did not have the facilities to accommodate his disability of being a double amputee. Pretoria Central Prison is the home of the “execution site” where black political activists were executed during South Africa’s apartheid. It also has a reputation of gang culture with multiple male rapes and murders being reported from there frequently.
The defense repeatedly tried to get Oscar out of a jail sentence entirely during his sentencing hearing reports Reuters. Although many feel that Judge Masipa went light on Oscar Pistorius, she did not let Oscar off of custodial time. He was sentenced to the hospital wing at Kgosi Mampuru with the possibility of being probated to house arrest within 10 months, which would have been on Aug. 21 of this year.
Initially, his parole to house arrest release had been approved in June. However, the Toronto Star reported last week that on Aug. 19, Justice Minister Michael Masutha sought a review of the order. Masutha felt that the release could not be approved before the 10 months had been served, and felt a June approval was a little hasty.
That review has gone into bureaucracy, and is currently being tied up with red tape in the South Africa’s Department of Correctional Services. Supporters of Reeva Steenkamp are happy with this limbo, wanting Oscar Pistorius to stay in custody as long as possible. They believe that he killed Reeva with intent, after a tumultuous relationship where Reeva reportedly expressed being afraid of Oscar Pistorius and his outburst.
During the course of his trial, the State also showed many examples of Oscar Pistorius having negative experiences with firearms. Firearms had a way of “accidentally discharging” around Oscar Pistorius, contended the State. And the defense agrees, that all of the many times guns have gone off around Oscar Pistorius, were accidents unless he was at the shooting range.
And it did seem to happen with him a lot before he was sentenced to custody. He has been in the hospital wing ever since he was found guilty of culpable homicide for the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp. An answer on the review of his release is expected within two week’s time. That is however, exactly what was said in August of this year on the matter as well.
Even if Oscar Pistorius gets his wish, and is paroled to house arrest for the remainder of his 5-year-sentence, that is the least of his legal problems. NBC Sports reports today that his case will soon appear before South Africa’s Supreme Court. Prosecutors for the State will ask the Supreme Court to reject Oscar’s culpable homicide conviction, and also to convict Oscar of murder.
The Supreme Court announced this week that those matters will be heard Nov. 3 of this year. A panel of 5 judges, two of which will be women, will rule on the matter.
The Oscar Pistorius case centers around events that happened in the wee hours of the morning on Valentine’s night 2013 in an upscale gated community in Pretoria, South Africa. There was fighting, according to the neighbors, and 4 gunshots. There also was blood curdling screams.
The State alleged that Oscar Pistorius shot his then girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through a bathroom door. The defense contended that Oscar thought the person in the bathroom was a burglar, and Oscar shot them in self defense, 4 times. This despite the fact that no weapon had been pulled on Oscar Pistorius, and no evidence was provided to show he thought he was in grave danger.
Oscar Pistorius however claimed that he told Reeva to call the police, before he shot her. Judge Masipa who presided over his trial, believed him, and also wondered why Reeva did not call for help. Perhaps that was because she was bleeding to death. We will never know.
We do know that Judge Masipa believed more of what Oscar Pistorius was saying, than supporters of Reeva Steenkamp did. It did appear with Masipa’s ruling that she also believed Oscar thought there was an intruder in the home. She also did say that although she didn’t think all of what he said was truthful, that it did not rise to the level of reasonable doubt for murder.
We have previously reported on Judge Masipa’s ruling. Her ruling received an outrage from the courts of public opinion when she said,
“I caution the court against making presumptions of guilt based on untruthfulness, that those assumptions must be guided against. When it comes to pre-meditated murder, despite the likely untruthful evidence from the accused, the rest of the evidence tips the scales in favor of the accused’s version of events.”
Judge Masipa also said there was no question that when Oscar fired the gun four times, that he “acted unlawfully.” She considered that negligence however, and not murder. June Steenkamp on the other hand, does not agree that Oscar was truthful about his recounting of events.
According to the L.A. Times shortly before Oscar was sent to the hospital wing, June opened up about Reeva and how she felt in the relationship with Oscar Pistorius. She said,
“She described exactly how she felt and that he wasn’t treating her properly, he was always irritable with her and snapped quickly, so that’s why we feel that it is not actually what happened. There’s more to the whole story than everybody knows; only Oscar knows.”
The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the State’s appeal on Nov. 3. One of three things will happen. They will either overrule Judge Masipa, agree with Judge Masipa, or set a retrial. What do you think should happen next in the Oscar Pistorius trial?