The day of reckoning is finally here as Oscar Pistorius is about to receive his sentence on Tuesday for the killing of Reeva Steenkamp, his girlfriend, of whose murder he stands accused. The Olympic runner could be facing many years in prison, a suspended sentence and a fine or no jail time at all, depending on the judge’s decision.
Pistorius is alleged to have shot Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet cubicle door in his home. Now, more than seven months into this tiresome trial, Judge Thokozile Masipa is expected to announce the punishment she has decided on, after Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide (a crime comparable to manslaughter) but acquitted of murder.
The prosecution has asked for a minimum of 10 years for the double-amputee athlete, while his defense lawyers insisted that a three-year correctional supervision sentence, with periods of house arrest and community service, would be more appropriate.
According to Pistorius’ testimony during his murder trial, he had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder the night of her killing. He claimed that he had feared the intruder would come out of the cubicle and attack him and it is because of that fear that he shot four times through the door. Pistorius shot a 9mm pistol at his victim. According to Judge Masipa, the athlete had not intended to kill his girlfriend but he acted negligently and used excessive force on the night of the killing.
Additionally, Pistorius had also been convicted of the unlawful firing of a gun weeks prior to Steenkamp’s death, an offence that carries a fine for a first offence but which may also be punished with a maximum of five years in prison.
On the eve of the sentencing, both Carl and Aimee, Pistorius’ siblings, gave interviews describing the difficult and emotional time that the family has had during the proceedings:
“It has been a long journey to this point. A very taxing one. It is difficult to support someone through something like this — all the guilt and ridicule and obviously the exposure that has come with it.”
Aimee told reporters.
“Tomorrow will be very difficult. This is a weight we all have to carry.”
her brother Carl added.
During a sentencing hearing last week, defense attorneys for Pistorius called a psychologist to testify that the athlete had suffered emotionally after Steenkamp’s killing. They also argued that the athlete could not be catered for in South African prisons because of his disability, which would make him vulnerable.