Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius reacts in the dock during the verdict in his murder trial in Pretoria. EPA/PHILL MAGAKOE / POOL
Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius reacts in the dock during the verdict in his murder trial in Pretoria. EPA/PHILL MAGAKOE / POOL

Oscar could have called for help: judge

By Shain Germaner Time of article published Sep 11, 2014

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Pretoria - Oscar Pistorius will have to wait until Friday morning to find out if he is guilty of culpable homicide for the death of Reeva Steenkamp. However, the final words of Judge Thokozile Masipa have revealed she believes he was negligent in his conduct on the night of the shooting.

Masipa spent the afternoon analysing whether Pistorius was negligent, detailing how the court would determine this. She noted the court had to use “the test of a reasonable man”, in other words asking if a reasonable person would have behaved the same way as Pistorius when he shot through his toilet cubicle door.

She said there was no reason to diverge from this test, as the test was dynamic and evolves with the times. What was reasonable several decades ago may not be reasonable today, she said.

Masipa said the defence had argued that Pistorius' disability be taken into account when determining if he acted reasonably, and as a double-amputee was more vulnerable than the average person. She said that the particular nature of a given case had to be considered, but that arguments such as his bathroom window not having burglar bars should not be considered.

She said all the accused had to do upon suspecting a break-in was pick up his cellphone and call the police or estate security, rather than his choice to fight the perceived intruder.

The defence had tried to argue that Pistorius living in a crime riddled country and a paranoid mother could have helped to explain his behaviour during the shooting.

But Masipa said the conduct of the accused could indeed be better understood looking at his background, but this could only provide an explanation, rather than an excuse for his behaviour.

“The accused had reasonable time to reflect, think and to conduct himself reasonably,” said Masipa, who added she did not believe another disabled person would have reacted the same way.

She added that Pistorius knew the calibur of his ammunition and how that could have damaged a human being. She said that Pistorius knew there was a person behind the toilet door and chose to use a firearm, and was trained to operate it. Masipa said that Pistorius could have taken steps to prevent the death, and he acted too hastily and used excessive force.

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