The 20 month trial for Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee Olympic medalist, was finally wrapped up on October 21st. But, with a sentence of 5 years in prison, a few questions have emerged. Did Pistorius receive a justifiable sentence for the actions he committed? Was the crime was truly an accident or actually premeditated?
Before anyone can really assume any of those answers, you should first know the details of the crime and of the trial. On Valentines Day 2013, Oscar Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp, his girlfriend, four times through a locked bathroom door, killing her. On Mr. Pistorius’s side of things, he claimed that he mistook her for a burglar hiding in his bathroom. Other witnesses, like Pistorius’s neighbors, say they heard gunshots, a woman’s scream, and then more gunshots.
Reeva Steenkamp, a former model, was 29 years old at the time. Pistorius was and is a special Olympics athlete with two prosthetic legs, known as a hero, a fighter, a dreamer, and a celebrity. He was listed as TIME’s 100 most influential people of 2012. Others would describe him as something different: a trigger-happy, aggressive bully, as stated by one of his ex-girlfriends.
On March 3, 2014, the trial began to figure out if Oscar was truly the hero he was supposed to be or a short tempered murderer. After details were spoken of, the trial was adjourned back until April 7th, where the debating between Pistorius and the defense truly began. Pistorius described how he felt vulnerable without his prosthetics, and due to paranoia without them, he feared there was a burglar inside of the house. However, the prosecutor was not buying it, demanding that Pistorius take responsibility for killing the young model. On April 10th, prosecutors deemed that Pistorius lied about his situation, and murdered his girlfriend in a fit of rage. Afterwards, the trial was yet again postponed until May 5th. When the trial restarted, Pistorius underwent a 30 day psychiatric assessment. Test results inferred that Pistorius did not suffer a mental illness to influence the action. On August 7th, a South African prosecutor exclaimed that Pistorius meant to shoot his girlfriend through a locked door, and Gerrie Nel grilled Pistorius for 5 days of emotional testimony, ending his argument stating that Pistorius is “incapable of taking responsibility for killing his girlfriend.” For the other side of the testimony, Pistorius and his lawyer stated Pistorius’s vulnerability, while for a long duration of the trial Pistorius was seen in an emotional state of sadness and despair.
Finally, on September 12th, Judge Thokozile Masipa proclaims that Oscar Pistorius committed manslaughter. Prosecutors demanded a 10 year minimum, while Masipa chose a sentence of 5 years. But is that really enough time? Debate has been sparked due to the controversy of the well known celebrity and his short sentence. Could he have received less time because of his status? In South Africa, murder sentences vary widely, especially in terms of manslaughter. It is for you, the reader, to decide. No amount of time can erase the horrible event of a young woman’s life being taken, but justice is necessary.