Judgment was on Friday reserved in the State’s application for leave to appeal a six year sentence imposed on paralympic gold medallist Oscar Pistorius.
The State argued to judges of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein that there were no substantial and compelling factors justifying high court Judge Thokozile Masipa deviating from the minimum prescribed sentence of 15 years for murder under the principle of dolus eventualis (when a person can foresee their actions would result in death).
State prosecutor Andrea Johnson insisted at the end of Friday’s proceedings that the SCA was “duty bound” to intervene because Pistorius never showed remorse or admitted his actions were wrong.
“The lack of admission in acknowledging the wrong, and in perhaps in acknowledging the wrong we [State] would not have a foot to stand on.”
Johnson argued Pistorius’s vulnerability on his stumps when he fired four shots through his bathroom door was “overemphasised” by Masipa.
Barry Roux, senior counsel for Pistorius, on the other hand told the court Masipa had balanced the interests of society and the Steenkamp family with those of Pistorius, given his disabilities, anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress when deciding not to impose the maximum sentence.
“With that disabilty, with that vulnerability, it didn’t make sense to her,” said Roux.
His state of mind and his physical disability was also proferred as an explanation why he did not take the stand in his resentencing by Masipa last year to explain to the court why he fired four shots through the door of a “tiny cubicle (toilet)” while on his stumps in his bathroom.
“There’s this person with severe post-traumatic stress. He’s standing there, in his mind foremosts [is] I killed my girflriend whom I love and I did not want to kill her. What must I do? I fired the four shots. He’s traumatised, he’s tormented,” Roux said.
The State insisted Pistorius showed no regret, with Roux arguing the fact that he tried to reach out the Steenkamp family was proof of such remorse.
Pistorius shot his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29, on Valentine’s Day in 2013.
He claimed he shot through the bathroom door because he thought she was an intruder. He was initially convicted of culpable homicide but the SCA in December 2015 overturned the finding to murder. The SCA held that even if Pistorius though there was an intruder in his home, he should have foreseen his actions would lead to a killing.