South African prosecutors have announced they will appeal the six-year prison term handed to Oscar Pistorius for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, describing the sentence as “shockingly too lenient”.
The state will on Friday again challenge a ruling by Judge Thokozile Masipa against convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius. The hearing would take place in the High Court in Johannesburg, National Prosecuting Authority.
A spokesman for South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority said the sentence risked bringing the country’s judicial system “into disrepute” if it were allowed to stand.
Judge Thokozile Masipa waived the minimum 15-year prison term for murder in Pistorius’s case because of his disability, his remorse and his attempts to save the model’s life after shooting her four times through a locked lavatory door at his Pretoria home on St Valentine’s Day 2013.
The ruling was described as “fair” by Steenkamp’s parents June and Barry and the Pistorius family.
The state won a previous appeal to get Judge Masipa’s original conviction of manslaughter for the athlete upgraded to murder, resulting in his re-sentencing for the more serious charge on July 6.
In a statement, a spokesman for the NPA said: “We respectfully submit that the sentence of six years’ imprisonment, in all the circumstances, is disproportionate to the crime of murder committed, that is to say, shockingly too lenient, and has accordingly resulted in an injustice and has the potential to bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”
The NPA said the judge, herself disabled by polio she suffered as a child, had exhibited “maudlin sympathy” for the Paralympian, “overemphasised” his disability, and “underemphasised” what Steenkamp must have endured.
The former paralympic athlete had expressed “some regret”, he had still not offered a credible explanation for firing the four shots that killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Tania Koen, a spokesman for the Steenkamp family, said they played no part in the state’s decision to appeal. “It is a matter for the state to decide, so they are not consulted,” she said. “But they support Gerrie’s fight for justice for Reeva.”
In the early hours of February 14, 2013, Pistorius shot Steenkamp four times through the locked door of the toilet in his Silver Woods Country Estate home. He claimed he thought there was an intruder behind the door about to emerge and harm him, and that Reeva was still in bed.