South African Olympics gold medalist Oscar Pistorius’ culpable homicide conviction for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp has been overturned by South Africa’s supreme court of appeal. The ‘blade runner’ has now been pronounced guilty of murder.
“The accused ought to have been found guilty of murder,” read Justice Eric Leach from an abridged version of the judgment. “This is a human tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.”
The top court has, therefore, ordered the original trial judge to impose a stricter sentence on Pistorius who is currently serving house arrest at his uncle’s luxury home after spending less than a year in jail.
A lower court is expected to sentence the athlete for the new murder conviction at a later date. The minimum sentence for murder in South Africa is 15 years in prison.
Pistorius shot and killed Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013, claiming he thought she was an intruder. The paralympian fired four shots through a locked toilet door in his home. As a result, a judge sentenced him to five years in prison for “culpable homicide” but prosecutors argued that he should be convicted of murder.
Judge Thokozile Masipa had ruled that the state failed to prove intent or “dolus eventualis“, a legal intention which is present when the perpetrator objectively foresees the possibility of his act causing death and persists regardless of the consequences.
Pistorius, who was once described as “symbolic of this sporting age: a strong brand that stood out in the marketplace, an athlete who engaged consumer attention and a person who added value to the brands that associated with him”, is very likely to spend all his remaining active years in jail. His career as an athlete is over and millions in endorsements made in his decade-long fame gone with the wind.