by CAROLINE GAVURA Section Editor
Disabled South African runner Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to five years in jail, and may serve less.
It was Valentine’s Day of 2013 when Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend of three months, South African model Reeva Steencamp, in his home. Pistorius does acknowledge that he shot Steencamp, but claims he mistook her for an intruder, as was his plea in the courtroom.
The trial, which began on March 3, 2014, was adjourned until Pistorius had a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he was at fault for the murder of Steencamp. Forensic psychiatrist Merryll Vorster testified for defense and stated that Pistorius has a generalized anxiety disorder. The evaluation, however, showed that Pistorius could still be held criminally responsible, with the trial resuming on June 30.
On September 12, Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide and one firearm charge.
On October 21, Pistorius received his sentence, which turned out to be a maximum of five years in jail. The defense team said, under the law Pistorius was charged with, he only has to serve 10 months in jail before being placed under house arrest.
“It is almost ridiculous how easy they are going on him. Jodi Arias, who is actually mentally unstable might I add, killed her boyfriend and she’s facing the death penalty. The fact that this guy might only serve 10 months for killing this poor girl makes me sick,” said senior Bree McKenna.
Steencamp’s parents have forgiven Pistorius for his actions and urge others to do the same: “The hatred a lot of people feel towards him as a person, you can’t carry that along with you…it will just make you ill. We don’t want revenge, we want a fair punishment under the circumstances of his disability. We wouldn’t have wanted him to go to jail and be abused, but he will realize that he can’t go around doing that, he can’t kill somebody like that,” Steencamp’s mother, June, said.
The couple was satisfied with the sentence, but they believe there is more to what happened that night.
“There’s more to the whole story than anybody knows. Only Oscar knows,” said June.
Many are wondering what prison will be like for Pistorius, who had both of his legs amputated when he was 11 years old. He spent his first night at the overcrowded, violent Pretoria Central Prison on October 22.
“I could care less about what happens to him in prison, even if he is disabled. He should have thought about the consequences before he killed that innocent woman,” said senior Corinne Franchette.
Many claim the daily routine of the prison is overshadowed by threat of rape, HIV infection, and gang violence. The defense team argued that the prison was unfit for someone with disabilities, and that Pistorius would be singled out because of his prosthetic legs. The judge dismissed their case and said the argument was not credible.
“I have no doubt that, if prisons in this country were below the required standard, the ever-vigilant human rights bodies in this country would not hesitate to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation,” said judge Thokozile Masipa.
Do you think Pistorius’s sentence was fair?