Oscar Pistorius to be sentenced for murder

4:39 pm on 13 June 2016

ANALYSIS: The events of Valentine's Day 2013 are about to finally catch up with South Africa's one-time golden boy Oscar Pistorius.

Oscar Pistorius leaving Pretoria High Court on 18 April 2016 after his murder case hearing was postponed.

Oscar Pistorius leaving Pretoria High Court on 18 April 2016 after his murder case hearing was postponed. Photo: AFP

After an appeals court found him guilty of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, the Olympian could be facing 15 years in prison.

It's already been a drawn-out process. There's been a trial, a verdict, a sentence and an appeal. Now he's about to face the second sentencing.

Although they have never admitted as much, Pistorius and his legal team would have been delighted with the outcome of the original trial.

The man known as "the Blade Runner" was sentenced to five years for culpable homicide (manslaughter) and served just shy of a year before being released into home detention.

But an appeals court overturned the verdict in November last year.

It was a unanimous decision. Pistorius was found guilty of murdering Ms Steenkamp, by firing four shots through the locked bathroom door of his home in Pretoria.

Right from the beginning, Pistorius has argued it was a tragic accident, and he thought she was an intruder inside his home.

Now another week of the court's time has been set aside for a sentencing hearing.

The same judge from the original trial, Judge Thokozile Masipa, is back. In South Africa, the minimum sentence for murder is 15 years, although if there are exceptional circumstances, she has the discretion to reduce that.

Also back is Pistorius' barrister, Barry Roux. He's likely to rely on the argument that the convicted murderer has already suffered enough.

Pistorius has lost his girlfriend, income, prestige and he's about to lose his freedom. The last time Pistorius was in court, he looked gaunt and pale.

The defence will argue that his disability is another reason why the judge should mitigate the sentence.

Back in 2014, Pistorius gave a tearful apology to the court, expressing his remorse.

"I have terrible nightmares about things that happened that night, where I wake up and I can smell blood, and I wake up to being terrified," he said.

"I wake up just in a complete state of terror, to a point that I'd rather not sleep than fall asleep and wake up like that."

During the drawn-out trial, the state portrayed Pistorius as an arrogant young man with a penchant for guns and reckless behaviour.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel will no doubt again use the same tactics to aim for a harsh sentence that could be seen as a deterrent.

All of this has to be viewed through the prism of the rainbow nation.

The prosecution will stress the fact that the colour of the murderer's skin is irrelevant. Privilege and money mean nothing.

It's likely Mr Nel will say Pistorius needs to be given a lengthy prison term for one reason: he murdered his partner.

But the frustrating element to this week is that there may not be a sentence delivered by Friday.

If the hearing runs late into the week, then the judge might adjourn proceedings for a few days.

She could tell everyone to come back in a week, or two, or even in a month, to finally find out what punishment fits the crime.


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