October 21st saw the much anticipated sentencing of South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, for the murder of his girlfriend model, Reeva Steenkamp. The South African public, as well as the global community, have been following this trial from its start. The live coverage of the trial made for easy following of the court proceedings. After the numerous delays, the trial facing a lot of controversy from human rights activists, and even following interference from the general public, it was finally D-day, and the family members of both the accused and the deceased sat in the courtroom as Judge Masipa delivered her sentence.

Judge Masipa, who is known for being a heavy-hitter, shocked the public when she sentenced Pistorius to five years with a minimum sentence of 10 months, as the law states that one has to serve one-sixth of the sentence before being considered for parole. She emphasised that the ‘sentence is about achieving the right balance – elements at play – crime, interest of society, retribution and deterrence’, and she further noted that finding a perfect sentence is a challenging exercise. She shot down any chance of Pistorius getting house arrest and/or a suspended sentence, and said that she is ‘uneasy’ about the emphasis placed on Pistorius’ ‘vulnerability’, saying he seems to have excellent coping skills.

Judge Masipa also compared case files with the Vorster case, where, similarly, a husband shot his wife who was in the bathroom after mistaking her for an intruder. The only difference between the two cases is that, in the Vorster case, the bathroom door was opened whereas in Pistorius’ trial, the toilet was a small cubicle, and an intruder would have not had room to escape; and the accused knew this fact.

Social media went ablaze when Judge Thokozile Masipa delivered her sentence, and sentenced Pistorius to five years imprisonment, with two years completely suspended for the shooting incident after much anticipation over this day.

The general consensus is that it’s a very light sentence, as a life was lost, and there is a grieving family. After the controversy surrounding the case, many felt that it was a question of Pistorius’ social standings, and argue that had it been an ordinary person, who was not internationally acclaimed and praised, the sentence would have been much steeper. Pistorius showed no emotion when the sentence was read, even when he was led to the holding cells, and stopped only to utter a few words with his uncle Arnold Pistorius.

Pistorius, who is known for his emotional outbursts, seemed to have been expecting such a sentence, but the question on everyone’s mind’s is whether he will appeal, as he has 14 days to decide this. Although many stand their ground, and argue that justice has not been served for Reeva, and that the South African legal system is flawed, and favours those with fat pockets, legal experts commend Judge Masipa for her thoroughness and unbiased manner throughout the trial.

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