Three and a half years after Oscar Pistorius fatally shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his Pretoria home, following a conviction, an appeal, and another conviction on more serious charges, the track star was sentenced to six years in prison for murder.
Pistorius’s relatives wept when the sentence was announced—he will be eligible to apply for parole in three years—but many following the trial were upset that Pistorius, 29, was not sentenced to even the mandatory minimum 15 years.
“The judgment is an insult to women. It sends the wrong message,” said Jacqui Mofokeng of the African National Congress women’s league, who has attended much of the trial and was in court on Wednesday.
#hernamewasReeva, is trending, used by those who believe the sentence was too lenient. But Judge Thokozile Masipa, in her hourlong judgment, said that she believed Pistorius is unlikely to reoffend, is a good candidate for rehabilitation, and appeared to show genuine remorse over Steenkamp’s death.
“Public opinion may be loud and persistent but it can play no role in the decision of this court,” Masipa said. “I am of the view that a long term in prison will not serve justice.”
“The life of the accused shall also never be the same. He is a fallen hero and can never be at peace.”
On Valentine’s Day 2013, Pistorius fired four times through a bathroom door, hitting Steenkamp, three times. He argued that he believed she was an intruder, and the judge at Pistorius’s initial trial agreed, clearing him of the most serious charges but finding him guilty of culpable homicide. As Pistorius served one year in prison before being released to house arrest, the state appealed and was granted a new trial, and Pistorius was found guilty of murder last year. The year he served on his previous conviction will not count toward his murder sentence.