The North Gauteng a High court heard on Friday the closing arguments from the lawyers in the Oscar Pistorius trial. The leaders of both the defence and prosecution, Barry Roux and Gerrie Nel, were both intent on ensuring that their side of the story get to the ears of Thokozile Masipa, the judge responsible for making the life-changing decision of whether the accused goes to prison or stays out of jail.
Oscar Pistorius was, last month, convicted of culpable homicide in the shooting of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp on the morning of Valentine’s Day in 2013. He claimed, in his defence, that he shot at the bathroom door in a fit of panic, thinking that it was an intruder who had come to attack him and his girlfriend. He was further convicted of another charge of discharging a firearm in public at Tasha’s at Melrose Arch. He was, however acquitted of another charge of discharging his gun through the sunroof of his car in 2012 as well as being in possession of unlawful ammunition.
In presenting his closing arguments for the prosecution, Gerrie Nel stated that locking Oscar away in prison was the only thing that would be accepted by society. He agreed with the leader of the defence that The Blade Runner’s right to hold or acquire firearms must be revoked so that he would not be fit or allowed to own one. He however disputed the defence’s contention that Oscar was not a cold-blooded killer, adding that he had every intention to kill Reeva when he shot at the bathroom door.
He also disagreed with Roux in that the court should take into consideration the principles of ubuntu and restorative justice and not send Pistorius to jail. He said this case was too big for such considerations. He further disputed the argument presented by the defence witnesses that a custodial sentence would break the paralympian based on his disability. He said the defence was using his disability when it was convenient for him. He said it did not hold much water to say that Oscar would struggle in prison because the showers did not have railings because even in his own house there were no rails in the shower.
In a last ditch effort to save his client from going to jail, Barry Roux said in his closing arguments that labeling Oscar as a cold-blooded killer was not correct. He described the athlete as a vulnerable person who used excessive force and not entertained the thought that his girlfriend was in the bathroom. He also added that when people looked at Oscar, they did not realise the impact the disability had on him but ” there was pain and treatment needed there.” He said that he had gathered from the evidence given by one of the witnesses that if sent to jail, he would be placed in a hospital. He further asked, “Put him in hospital section, putting him with people who are suffering from ailments… what must he do there, should he not come out. It can never be a suitable punishment by locking a person up in hospital. Is there really a dominating factor to lock him up?”
Passing of sentence is expected on Tuesday.