Pistorius Found Guilty of Culpable Homicide, Faces up to 15 Years in Prison
Oscar Pistorius is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
Olympian Oscar Pistorius has been found guilty of culpable homicide for the fatal shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day. The verdict means that Pistorius could face up to 15 years in prison, although the wide discretion with the Judge has kept the possibility of a lighter sentence, including a suspended sentence, open. The court will resume for sentencing at a later date.
The Judge, Thokozile Masipa, said a "reasonable person" would not have fired four shots into the toilet cubicle, and that Pistorius acted "too hastily and used excessive force. In the circumstances, it is clear his conduct was negligent."
Pistorius, however, was cleared of charges of murder and premeditated murder with Judge Masipa saying that the prosecution had not provided enough evidence for conviction. Further, the Judge said, “clearly he [Pistorius] did not objectively foresee this as a possibility that he would kill the person behind the door.”
Further, Pistorius was cleared on two unrelated firearms charges -- of firing a firearm through a sunroof and of illegal possession of ammunition. However, he was found guilty on a third charge of illegally discharging a firearm in a crowded restaurant in reference to an incident that took place two weeks before Steenkamp’s death.
The V-Day Tale
The “Fastest Man on No Legs” or the “Blade Runner” as the world knows him for his prosthetic legs, became embroiled in a wretched saga of love and murder. Accused of premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14, 2013, the Olympic and Paralympic sprinter pleaded not guilty, as he faced a probable life sentence under immense scrutiny of a trial that is garnering glares around the globe.
But who was Reeva?
Born in Cape Town, Steenkamp was an impeccable concoction of what we call beauty with brains. The impressive platinum-haired beauty was a law graduate from the University of Port Elizabeth before she steered into the fashion cosmos.
She ushered into the big, bad world of modeling and fruitfully scored with more than a few gigs. A roaming presenter on FashionTV, she was also the face of American cosmetic brand Avon. For Him Magazine (FHM), on which she featured as a cover girl, described her as the “kindest, sweetest human being; angel on earth.” In 2011, She was ranked number 40 in the FHM “100 Sexiest Women in the World poll” of South African readers. She started dating Pistorius in November 2012.
She entrenched comfortably, her hold in the world of fashion as she geared up for an astounding reality TV debut on "Tropika Island of Treasure", a show that featured local celebrities competing for prize money.
Blowing a kiss to the camera, she had said, "I'm going home with sort of a sweet taste in my mouth. I don't have any regrets. I don't have any bitterness. I'm going to miss you all so much and I love you very much," on a pre-recorded episode of the show, two days prior to her execrable murder.
Her last few social media updates, on Twitter and Instagram, divulged a feminist side and how strongly she felt about violence against women in Africa and empowerment of women, entreating her followers to wear black the day after Valentine’s to mark protest against the barbaric rape of 17-year-old Anene Booysen in South Africa.
“I woke up in a happy, safe home this morning. Not everyone did,” is what she tweeted four days before the grievous incident. Knowing nothing about her own dismal fate.
Murder or mistake?
The mention of “blood curling screams” is what subjugated Day one of the testimony in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius, as the only eyewitness, Michelle Burger, testified that “something terrible was happening in that house”. The neighbour of Pistorius also told the prosecutors upon questioning that she heard a woman’s petrifying screams and a man yelling for help.
Although the sporting hero’s lawyers are armed to claim that he was a man profoundly in love with his girlfriend but made an abysmal mistake. Pistorius, in his court documents, extracted that he heard a noise from the bathroom in the middle of the night and unloaded a number of shots through the toilet door in order to protect himself and Steenkamp.
"It filled me with horror and fear of an intruder or intruders being inside the toilet. I thought he or they must have entered through the unprotected window. As I did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable, I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself," he said in a court affidavit.
The prosecutors, on the other hand, have a wholly dissimilar slant to the incident; pressing on how the couple had a fuming argument following which Steenkamp had locked herself in the toilet.
The South African sprinter became the first Paralympian to compete in the able-bodied Olympics in London in 2012. He was born without the fibulae in his legs and they were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old.
Tanya Mahendru is a science graduate by chance, a writer by choice. She studied Chemistry from St. Stephen's followed by Biomedical Science from King's College London, worked with India Today in the past and is currently working with Penguin Random House.