Johannesburg - Judge Thokozile Masipa has rejected the State's application to appeal her decision to sentence Oscar Pistorius to 6 years in prison.
At the High Court in Johannesburg, State prosecutor Gerrie Nel spent Friday morning arguing that the court misdirected itself in its “shockingly lenient” sentence, and has requested the opportunity to approach the Supreme Court of Appeal to re-examine the sentence.
After considering both side's arguments, Masipa in a brief ruling said she was not persuaded another court would provide a different sentence. She dismissed the application with costs.
Pistorius was arrested in February 2013 for shooting Steenkamp four times through a closed door at his Pretoria East home, claiming he believed she was an intruder entering through the bathroom window.
The paralympian was convicted of murder in December last year after the Supreme Court of Appeal overturned his initial culpable homicide conviction. He returned to the High Court in Pretoria in July where Masipa re-sentenced him to a six-year prison term.
Judge Masipa was sympathetic towards Pistorius in her sentencing judgment, ultimately choosing to lessen the prescribed minimum 15-year sentence for the athlete, declaring she believed the athlete truly regretted his actions.
Shortly after, State prosecutor Gerrie Nel filed an application for leave to appeal Masipa’s most recent sentence, claiming six years was shockingly lenient considering Pistorius’ negligent actions.
According to the State’s application and Nel's reiteration of his heads of argument on Friday morning, there were three aggravating major factors that Judge Masipa should have taken into account in her sentencing: the number of shots fired, that he had already formed the intention to shoot in his bedroom, before he had even approached the bathroom and lastly the Supreme Court of Appeal’s rejection of Pistorius’s claims of self-defence.
However, the State revealed 30 other points as to why the court “misdirected itself”, from overemphasising the forgiveness of the Steenkamp family - who during the sentencing proceedings earlier this year expressed their deep levels of sadness over the young model’s death – to Judge Masipa’s “undue sympathy” for Pistorius.
Meanwhile, Pistorius’s legal team, headed by Advocate Barry Roux, stated in their responding papers that they believed the State’s application was doomed to fail.
Roux argued that the State had not taken into account that Pistorius had already spent 12 months in jail when previously convicted of culpable homicide, as well as serving seven months under correctional supervision (house arrest).
“It must be borne in mind that correctional supervision is a form of detention,” Roux said.
Pistorius's defence further insisted that “if regard is had to the fact that – subject to good behaviour – an accused would usually be released on parole after serving about 60% of his sentence, the previous sentence period served, as well as the correctional supervision, constitute about a two-year effective imprisonment sentence already served by the accused”. This effective eight-year sentence is anything but lenient, Roux said.