After a period of close to two years following the shooting to death of Reeva Steenkamp by her then boyfriend, Oscar Pistorius, the trial has officially come to an end. The athlete was finally sentenced on Tuesday morning by Judge Sithokozile Masipa at the Pretoria High Court. He was sentenced to a total of five years in prison while the three years for the public discharge of a firearm at the Tasha’s restaurant in Melrose Arch were wholly suspended.
In the early hours of Valentine’s day in 2013, Oscar shot four times through the door of his first floor bathroom at what he believed was an intruder and in the process, killed Reeva, who had gone into the bathroom during the night. The prosecution, on the other hand, believed that Reeva was shot by Oscar in a fit of rage after an argument.
In handing down the sentence, Judge Masipa said that a correctional supervision sentence, that is, house arrest, would not have sent the correct message to society. On the other hand, she also felt that a long sentence would have been too harsh for Oscar under the circumstances. Judging from the reaction of both parties, including the families in the courtroom on the day, she seems to have struck the right balance as none erupted into scenes of jubilation or in anger.
The two families also have shown that they would like to accept the sentence albeit grudgingly so. In an interview later in the day of sentencing, the mother of Reeva, June Steenkamp, said the family believed that the judge’s sentence had been fair and had been accepted by the family and hoped that the family would be given the opportunity to move on. ” We are not looking for vengeance or for him to get hurt; we are just happy because he’s going to be punished for what he has done,” June said. Her husband, Barry added: “We’re both satisfied with the result and are relieved it’s all over. All we want to do now is to get on with our lives.” This, may be, is a hint to the prosecution that the family does not have the ‘appetite’ for an appeal that was professed by the National Prosecuting Authority immediately after the trial.
The Pistorius family, on the other hand, have accepted the judgement. “The court has handed down judgement and sentence, and we accept the judgement,” said Oscar’s uncle, Arnold, adding that Oscar would embrace the opportunity to pay back to society, a reflection, maybe, of the Blade Runner’s acceptance of the sentence as well.
Oscar Pistorius was, on Tuesday, quickly whisked away to start serving his prison term at the Pretoria Central Prison which is now known as the Kgosi Mampuru II Prison where he was reported to have undergone a thirty six hour needs assessment and managed to get some sleep on the first night. Even though the Paralympian has been handed down a five year sentence, according to the constitution, he can opt out of the custodian sentence and rather request correctional supervision as early as in ten months’ time.
The athlete has said that he wants to return to the track to compete. Even after his conviction last month for culpable homicide, Sacoc, the South African body running athletics, had indicated that he could compete if he wanted to. However, an American sports management professor, Michael Goldman has said that Oscar’s career as an athlete is over as he has not been practicing for more than a year and may not have that opportunity inside prison. He added that by the time he finishes his term, he will be at an age when most athletes retire or are considering retirement. In any case, he argued, most brands would not want to associate with him after this debacle. He advised that there was a career he could tap into while he was in custody or under house arrest, that is, a career in writing or talking.