November 2014

Pistorius receives five-year sentence

South African Judge Thokozile Masipa on October 21 sentenced double-amputee Olym­pic runner Oscar Pistorius to five years in prison for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Masipa found Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide and said he showed “gross negligence” when on Valentine’s Day 2013 he shot Steenkamp multiple times through a bathroom door in his home.

Prosecutors will go to court on December 9 to appeal the sentence and verdict, which they have said should be murder, not the lesser charge of culpable homicide.

After sentencing, officials took Pistorius to Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru II prison, where South African law says he must serve at least one sixth—or 10 months—of his five-year sentence before becoming eligible for community supervision.

Some civil rights activists have questioned whether prison conditions, which in South Africa are reported to be overcrowded, rife with gang violence, and unsanitary, will confer undue hardships on the disabled athlete. Masipa and prison officials, however, said the institution can meet Pistorius’s special needs.

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