The Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that Masipa had made a fundamental error in law, and failed to apply the correct legal test in reaching her finding: whether Pistorius foresaw his actions might kill.
Last September, Pistorius was found guilty of “culpable homicide”, South Africa’s version of manslaughter, for killing his girlfriend in February 2013. The minimum sentence for a murder conviction is 15 years – except for cases where the accused can show clear mitigating factors.
The prison cell in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, Dec. 1 2015, where Oscar Pistorius stayed for a year for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, is furnished with a single mattress on a metal frame, a basin, a small cabinet and a barred window whose view is blocked by a metal screen on the outside.
Despite the appeal court’s ruling that Judge Masipa erred in her judgment, Judge Leach praised her for her “dignity and patience” in her conduct of the lengthy trial in the full glare of live television coverage.
Pistorius has been living with his uncle in Pretoria since being released on house arrest in October, performing community service once a fortnight under his conditions of parole.
Pistorius can challenge the opinion in the constitutional court but only when his attorneys can claim that his constitutional rights are broken.
State prosecutors had appealed to the Supreme Court in Bloemfontein against the ruling of culpable homicide in the original trial.
Barry Steenkamp, Reeva’s father called the judgement fair and expressed his relief: “Let us now all get on with our lives”.
June Steenkamp, mother of Reeva, was present for the ruling, but Pistorius did not attend.
“I have no doubt that in firing the fatal shots, the accused…did foresee that whoever was behind that toilet door might die”.
It is, as the judge said, a human tragedy of Shakespearean proportions and all because of a moment of unbridled anger. “I am sure she’ll be able to rest well now”. He said during his trial that he mistook her for an intruder when he opened fire at the locked door of his bedroom toilet.
In acquitting Pistorius, Masipa had relied on his comment that if he wanted to kill, he would have fired his bullets higher.
The South African model was planning on giving a talk to a school about the domestic abuse the day she was shot dead by Oscar Pistorius. “In the interest of justice, the conviction and sentence imposed must be set aside and the conviction must be substituted with a conviction of the correct offence”.
Phelps said she believed it was “quite likely” that Pistorius would take his appeal to that court, and she “wouldn’t be surprised” if the question of double jeopardy was something his legal team explored in their appeal.
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