Wednesday, 22 October 2014
Looking distressed, the Paralympian clasped the hands of family members as a police officer led him from the dock down 23 steps – paint peeling off the handrail to holding cells below the high court in Pretoria, the capital of South Africa. The national prosecuting authority said Pistorius, 27, would go to prison immediately and would be eligible to be considered for parole after serving a third of his sentence. His uncle, Arnold Pistorius, indicated the sprinter would not appeal. South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma has criticised Oscar Pistorius’s defence team for arguing the Paralympian should be spared prison because he is disabled and “has money”. Zumas first public comments about the most closely watched trial in the country’s post-apartheid history came as Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide for the killing of Reeva Steenkamp. Masipa rejected many of the defence team’s arguments and described the evidence of one of their witnesses, social worker Annette Vergeer, as “slapdash and disappointing”. She said she had no reason to believe that South Africa’s prisons would not be able to cater for the needs of a disabled person such as Pistorius. “It would be a sad day for this country if an impression was created that there is one law for the poor and disadvantaged and another for the rich and famous,” she noted. Masipa said a judge must strive for a sentence “neither too light nor too severe”, ruling that “a non-custodial sentence will send a wrong message to the community”.