Oscar Pistorius out of legal options as request to appeal rejected
Former star athlete loses bid to cut 13-year jail term for murder of Reeva Steenkamp
Oscar Pistorius appeal: Nel says judge 'erred' on conviction
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel was back in court today to appeal against Oscar Pistorius's culpable homicide conviction and five-year sentence for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Judge Thokozile Masipa cleared the athlete of murder, saying the state had not proved beyond reasonable doubt that Pistorius had intended to kill anyone when he fired four shots through a locked toilet door on 14 February 2013.
Masipa will deliver her ruling tomorrow. If she grants the prosecution permission to appeal against her verdict and sentence, the case will go to South Africa's supreme court of appeal in Bloemfontein. If she refuses, the prosecution can choose to petition her decision.
Defence lawyer Barry Roux will also make a submission, but Pistorius is unlikely to make an appearance himself. He is currently serving his sentence at Kgosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria.
Here is what we have heard today:
10.30am: Defence lawyer Barry Roux makes his submission. He says that every single point raised by the prosecution in its application was taken into account by the court. Even if the court made an error, it would be based on a point of fact, not law, and so cannot be grounds for appeal, he says. Roux accuses the state of "twisting" things because it is unhappy with the findings. "My Lady, you absolutely, correctly dealt with dolus eventualis," he tells Judge Masipa. Wrapping up, Roux summarises that there is no case for appeal.
Judge Masipa says she needs time to consider her decision. The court adjourns until tomorrow morning.
9.00am: Gerrie Nel is making his submission to the court. His job is to convince Masipa that a different court might make a different finding. In his written submission he describes Pistorius's five-year sentence as "shockingly light". He tells the court that the fact that Pistorius might serve only ten months in prison is "inappropriate" for someone who acted with his degree of culpability and gross negligence. "An innocent woman was shot and killed in most horrendous circumstances... The accused fired four shots. He knew there was someone in the cubicle with no escape," he says.
Nel suggests the court may have "erred" in its application of dolus eventualis, a legal term for when the perpetrator foresees the possibility of his action causing death and persists regardless. Judge Masipa ruled that Pistorius had not foreseen that his action would result in death.
Nel denies a claim by the defence that his appeal is based on matters of fact – which is not allowed – and insists it is a matter of law. For a murder conviction, the court does not have to believe Pistorius wanted to kill Steenkamp, but simply that he wanted to kill the perceived intruder he believed to be behind his toilet door, says Nel. The prosecutor adds that it is very unlikely that a murder suspect will come to court and admit they wanted to shoot. Therefore the court has to use the legal tests and facts to come to that conclusion.
Oscar Pistorius's sister denies prison rules broken on birthday
Oscar Pistorius's sister Aimee has denied reports that her family flouted prison rules on the day of her brother's birthday.
South Africa's Sunday Times newspaper suggested yesterday that the athlete was given preferential treatment as he celebrated his 28th birthday behind bars at Pretoria's Kgosi Mampuru prison on Saturday.
"Prison officials bent over backwards for Oscar Pistorius and his siblings on his birthday," claimed the newspaper.
It said Aimee and her brother Carl had been allowed to bring Pistorius balloons, a gift bag and a cake from outside of the prison, despite Correctional Services rules stating that prisoners can only be given food bought at the prison tuck shop.
It also claimed the siblings spent almost two hours together, despite rules stating that visits must last no longer than an hour. Prison officials drove Aimee and Carl's cars into the prison grounds without searching them "as is the norm for vehicles entering a high-security area", added the Times.
But Aimee took to Twitter yesterday to address the claims. "I am dumbfounded at the false and irresponsible reporting in some newspapers today. Carl and I had a 45-minute non-contact visit with Oscar yesterday as all our visits have been non-contact thus far, per regulations," she wrote.
"My brother received NOTHING that was not allowed by prison regulations for group B prisoners. No cake or perishables present at all. In fact, he only received toiletries and letters on his birthday and we took some balloons to SHOW him through the glass divider.
"We are respectful of the rules. The correctional officers have been courteous but stern – as their position requires."
The management of Kgosi Mampuru denied Pistorius was receiving preferential treatment, but a spokesman for South Africa's Department of Correctional Services said: "The allegations will be investigated and persons found guilty will be dealt with."
Pistorius is serving a five-year prison sentence after he was found guilty of culpable homicide for shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on 14 February 2013.
Oscar Pistorius: who is behind bars with athlete in Pretoria?
Oscar Pistorius is in the same prison as an apartheid death squad leader and has shared birthday cake with a Czech prisoner, according to local media reports.
The athlete is three weeks into his five-year prison sentence after being convicted of culpable homicide for shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Prosecutors announced today that their application to appeal against Pistorius's conviction and sentence will be heard on 9 December.
Until then, Pistorius remains behind bars at Kgosi Mampuru II in Pretoria.
According to South African newspaper City Press, the athlete was initially housed in a private cell in the prison's EF section but had to be moved after another high-profile prisoner, Etienne Kabila, flooded the cells.
Kabila was arrested in February 2013, two days before Reeva was killed, but is still awaiting trial and possible extradition for allegedly plotting to kill and overthrow his half brother, Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila.
Kabila, who has previously complained of being physically assaulted by prison guards, is believed to have put a plug in a basin and left the tap running after arguing with wardens.
One source told City Press: "[The section] was so badly flooded that inmates were almost swimming, and this was seen as too dangerous for Oscar."
Pistorius has been moved to the B section of the prison.
Among his neighbours is Czech prisoner Radovan Krejcir, who is currently on trial for alleged kidnapping and torture. He reportedly celebrated his birthday two weeks ago and shared his birthday cake with other prisoners in the wing, including Pistorius.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Pistorius has also been using gym equipment belonging to Krejcir to keep fit.
The Czech prisoner has complained that an exercise bike and treadmill installed in a hallway near his cell was taken away without his knowledge and provided to Pistorius.
"I did not object to Mr Pistorius utilising my equipment after he arrived at this facility and in fact Mr Pistorius and I started training together," he wrote in a letter sent to prison officials, Amnesty International and the South African Press Association.
However, he did object to the gym equipment being moved, and demanded that they be returned to their position outside his cell.
"I have been deprived of my training since November 9 2014 as a result of this unfounded and unexplainable change," he wrote, "which I submit has been directed directly at me, in just another form of mental and emotional torture,
Once the flood damage is repaired, Pistorius is expected to be moved back to the EF section of the prison, where the single cells are said to be bigger and more comfortable. The security in B section is also said to be a lot tighter. However, it is not as tight as the prison's maximum security section C-Max, which houses apartheid death squad leader Eugene de Kock, known as 'Prime Evil'.
The South African Times says Pistorius wakes at 5.30am, eats breakfast at 7am, lunch at 12pm and supper at 4pm – all in his cell.
He has not been mingling much with other prisoners and has become extremely depressed, says City Press. One source told the newspaper: "He has even cried on occasion. He really is battling with prison."
Oscar Pistorius: prosecution files appeal against verdict
South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority has filed an appeal against the verdict and sentence given to Oscar Pistorius.
Prosecutors were not happy with the culpable homicide conviction and five-year prison sentence handed down by Judge Thokozile Masipa.
"Today, we announce that the NPA filed the application for leave to appeal both the conviction and sentence," it said today in a statement. "The appeal on conviction is based on the question of law."
Pistorius began his prison term on 21 October and will be eligible for release after ten months to complete his sentence under house arrest.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel had argued that only ten years' imprisonment would satisfy the public.
Some legal experts believe Judge Masipa erred in her interpretation of "murder dolus eventualis", a legal term for when the perpetrator foresees the possibility of his action causing death and persists regardless.
Masipa accepted that a "reasonable" person would have foreseen that shooting into the door of a small toilet cubicle may have killed the person inside. However, she said South African law warns against automatically assuming that because a perpetrator "should have" foreseen the consequences of his actions that he actually did.
The onus was on the state to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Pistorius foresaw the fatal consequences of his actions when he shot at the door, but the judge said the prosecution failed to do so.
A date for the appeal hearing has not yet been set.
June Steenkamp, Reeva's mother, said the family had been "devastated" when Masipa ruled out murder and pre-meditated murder, but said that after sentencing they felt that justice had been done. "We were happy with the sentence – five years is sufficient," she said.
She has since said that she believes the judge made a mistake in failing to convict Pistorius of murder (see below).
Oscar Pistorius: judge made a 'mistake', says Reeva's mother
The mother of Reeva Steenkamp believes the judge who convicted Oscar Pistorius of culpable homicide "made a mistake".
June Steenkamp has spoken out in a number of interviews since Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison for shooting Reeva on Valentine's Day last year.
Prosecutors announced last week that they will appeal against both the conviction and sentence handed down by Judge Thokozile Masipa.
"I had a lot of trust in her," June said of Judge Masipa in an interview with The Guardian's David Smith. "But I think she did make a mistake."
The Steenkamp family was said to be "devastated" that Judge Masipa ruled out murder and pre-meditated murder, but felt that justice had been done after Pistorius was sentenced to five years in jail.
June said she still did not feel any sense of closure, despite the trial coming to an end last month.
"I've actually been feeling much worse than at the beginning. It's like a realisation that she's not there any more. I sat there every day and I always had things to do, and now it's crystal clear that she's never coming back," said June.
Both she and her husband Barry are tortured by the thought of their daughter's final moments, she said. Reeva was hit in the hip, arm and head through the closed toilet door.
"Imagine what she went through in that toilet, petrified, waiting for God to save her," said June. "That's the worst part. Barry and I both have nightmares and it's always about that, because we always protected her."
June described her daughter as a "perfect child and lovable", saying she could not remember one argument that they had because she was so good.
"We would have loved to have had a little grandchild from her," she tells The Guardian. "We'd love to have had a wedding; her father would love to have taken her down the aisle. And all the great things she was going to do. She could have changed the world. She could have changed South Africa, the way she was going. She had a voice."
Oscar Pistorius: Reeva Steenkamp 'had decided to leave' athlete
Reeva Steenkamp's mother believes her daughter was ready to leave Oscar Pistorius when she was shot dead on Valentine's Day last year.
June Steenkamp, who is publishing a book about her daughter next week, claims that Reeva and Pistorius had not yet slept together and that their relationship was coming to an end.
In an extract from Reeva: A Mother's Story, she says her daughter had "nagging doubts" about their compatibility.
"She had confided to me that she hadn't slept with him," writes June. "They'd shared a bed, but she was scared to take the relationship to that level... She wouldn't want to sleep with Oscar if she wasn't sure. I believe their relationship was coming to an end. In her heart of hearts, she didn't think it was making either of them happy."
June describes Pistorius as "arrogant", "possessive" and "trigger happy" in the book. "It was Reeva's bad luck that she met him, because sooner or later he would have killed someone," she claims.
Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison for culpable homicide last week. Judge Thokozile Masipa accepted the defence's timeline of events and said Pistorius's version of events – in which he claims he mistook Reeva for a dangerous intruder – could be "reasonably, possibly true".
But June does not accept Pistorius's story. "He said pulling the trigger was 'an accident'. What? Four times an accident?" she says. "He said Reeva did not scream, but she would definitely have screamed. I know my daughter and she was very vocal."
June speculates that one of them might have received a Valentine's Day message from another admirer and that might have sparked a row – although no such message was brought up in court. She believes Pistorius shot Reeva in a jealous rage and then shot three more bullets to ensure she could not tell the world what really happened.
"Her clothes were packed. There is no doubt in our minds: she had decided to leave Oscar that night," she claims.
Reaction to verdict
The Steenkamp family were "devastated" when Judge Masipa first ruled out murder and pre-meditated murder. "I felt very, very disappointed. Heartsore, actually, and exhausted," says June. "It was the worst of double whammies – to lose our daughter and then to see her violent death officially deemed an accident."
Reaction to sentence
June says she felt "so much better" after the sentencing and believed that Judge Masipa gave a "balanced consideration" of the mitigating and aggravating arguments. "We feel justice has been done. We were happy with the sentence – five years is sufficient," she says. However, she has noted that no sentence could ever provide closure for her family. "Nothing can – unless someone can magic Reeva back."
Feelings towards Oscar
June says she has forgiven Pistorius "in the Christian sense" and has "no feelings" towards him, good or bad. "We just want the truth and he is the only person who can fill in the missing blanks of what happened that night," she says. Both June and her husband Barry would like to sit down in private with the athlete. June says she has "no hate" in her heart for Pistorius's family either and feels sympathy for what they have gone through.
Oscar Pistorius: prosecution has 'appetite' to appeal
South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority is considering whether to appeal against Oscar Pistorius's culpable homicide verdict.
The athlete was yesterday sentenced to five years in prison for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year and has spent his first night in Kgosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria.
Pistorius's defence lawyers suggested that he could serve just ten months in jail, a period only slightly longer than the duration of his trial.
His family told reporters that he did not intend to lodge an appeal and would "embrace" the opportunity to "pay back to society".
The NPA, however, has indicated that it has an "appetite" to appeal. "We have always stated first and foremost that we were disappointed with the conviction," NPA spokesman Nathi Mncube told reporters. "But we do find solace in the fact the accused will serve some time in prison."
Both sides have the opportunity to appeal within 14 days. Mncube said the NPA would use this time to consider whether the facts and the law allowed them to appeal, and suggested that the state would appeal the verdict, but not the sentence.
"It is not a straightforward matter because there is law we have to consider, to ensure that if we do take the matter to appeal, we are able to support the decision. But hopefully we will able to do so," he said.
Some South African lawyers questioned whether Judge Thokozile Masipa had erred in clearing Pistorius of murder last month.
In explaining why she could only convict him on culpable homicide, Masipa acknowledged that a "reasonable" person with Pistorius's disabilities would have foreseen that shooting into the door may have killed the person inside. However, she said South African law warns against automatically assuming that because a perpetrator "should have" foreseen the consequences of his actions that he actually did.
She said that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Pistorius foresaw the fatal consequences of his actions when he shot at the door, meaning she could not convict him on a murder charge.
Oscar Pistorius: is five years in prison justice for Reeva?
After an emotional seven-month trial, Oscar Pistorius was calm and composed today as Judge Thokozile Masipa sentenced him to five years in prison – but outside the courtroom, reactions were more extreme.
The defence team said it expects the athlete to serve only ten months behind bars and the remainder under house arrest, while the prosecution believe he will have to serve at least 20 months.
The prospect of Pistorius leaving jail within a year provoked outrage on Twitter, with the hashtag #Nojustice trending worldwide.
Sky News reporter Robert Nisbet said the overwhelming reaction on the streets of Pretoria was also negative. "He took the soul of another person. How can that be right?" one man said outside the court.
But Reeva Steenkamp's mother June says justice has been served. She told reporters "it doesn't matter" that Pistorius could be out of prison in ten months. "He's going to pay something," she said.
Pistorius's family also said they were satisfied with the sentence and added that the athlete will "embrace this opportunity to pay back to society".
Professor Stephen Tuson, of Wits School of Law, told News24 it would be "inadvisable" for Pistorius to appeal against the sentence as he "got off lightly" for culpable homicide.
Masipa sentenced the athlete to a maximum imprisonment of five years for killing Reeva and a concurrent three-year prison sentence, suspended for five years, for discharging a firearm in a Johannesburg restaurant in January 2013.
In The Independent, Chris Maume says Masipa "might have shown mercy, but she has delivered perfect justice". A non-custodial sentence would have "sent the wrong message" that if you are famous enough, you can get away with manslaughter, while a longer hail sentence "would have felt like grandstanding", says Maume.
But in The Guardian, Simon Jenkins thinks Pistorius should not be going to jail at all. Masipa's argument was "meticulously reasoned", says Jenkins, but "beyond the cause of consistency, imprisoning Pistorius can serve no purpose".
He describes imprisonment as "brutalism" and says no one will be more or less deterred by the length of his sentence.
"Finding why he behaved as he did, and working to prevent others doing likewise, would be the most useful outcome of his crime. That is unlikely to happen in a prison."
Oscar Pistorius sentenced to five years in prison
Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to five years in prison for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot dead on Valentine's Day last year.
In a court in Pretoria, Judge Masipa also handed Pistorius a three-year sentence, suspended for five years, for negligently discharging a firearm in a crowded restaurant in Johannesburg in January 2013.
The two sentences will run concurrently.
The prosecution had wanted Pistorius to serve at least ten years in prison, while his own lawyers had argued that he should serve a three-year community-based sentence, such as 16 hours of domestic cleaning a month.
Immediately after the verdict was read out, members of the athlete's family told reporters that there would be no appeal against the sentence, and that they expected Pistorius to go directly to prison. His legal team said their understanding was that he will have to serve ten months, one sixth of his sentence, in prison before being considered for house arrest.
However, Nathi Mncube, a spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority, suggested Pistorius would have to serve at least one third of the prison sentence, around 20 months, in jail. He added that the NPA has an "appetite" to appeal but has not made a decision to do so yet. Both sides have two weeks in which to lodge an appeal.
Here is what the court heard:
9.35am: Oscar Pistorius is asked to stand for his sentence. Masipa says on count one of culpable homicide, he should serve a maximum of five years in prison. On count two, three years imprisonment, suspended for five years with the condition that the accused is not found guilty of a crime where there is negligence with the use of a firearm. The sentence in count one and count two shall run concurrently.
9.30am: Judge Masipa is looking at the sentencing guidelines from case law, including the cases raised by the defence in which the accused was convicted of culpable homicide but escaped prison. Masipa says that in her view "none of these cases are important". She outlines why she thinks facts in these cases are "dissimilar" to those in the present case.
She says that the degree of negligence in Pistorius's case means that the sentence put forward by the defence witnesses would "not be appropriate" considering the circumstances.
9.10am: Masipa runs through the mitigating and aggravating factors in sentencing. The facts that Pistorius shot not one but four shots into a small toilet cubicle and had undergone training in firearms are "very aggravating", she says. However, he is a first offender and seems remorseful. She accepts the defence's evidence that he had tried to apologise to Reeva's parents privately but they were not ready so the attempt failed. Masipa says she disagrees with the state that mental and physical facts should not be taken into account in sentencing because they had already been taken into account in the conviction. Mental and physical factors "ought to be considered together with other relevant factors", she says.
The judge states that society cannot always gets what it wants. "Courts do not exist to win popularity contests but exist solely to dispense justice," she says. Nothing I say or do today can reverse what happened to the victim, says Masipa.
9.00am: Masipa says she is satisfied that prisons can accommodate prisoners with the accused's needs and says she has no reason to believe that Pistorius would present Correctional Services with an "insurmountable challenge". For example, if he needs a bench in the shower it would be "unreasonable" to think that he would not be provided with one.
It cannot be disputed that a pregnant woman belongs to one of the most vulnerable groups of people, says Masipa. Yet a pregnant woman will be sentenced to jail if such a sentence is warranted.
The judge says it would be a "sad day for this country" if the court created an impression that there is one law for the poor and one law for the rich and famous.
Masipa admits she had "a feeling of unease" over the defence's "overemphasis" of the accused's vulnerability. Yes, he is vulnerable but he also has excellent coping skills, she says. Thanks to his mother, he rarely saw himself as disabled and excelled as a top athlete against the odds, even competing against non-disabled athletes.
8.55am: Masipa is summarising the evidence from the prosecution witnesses. The prosecution called:
- Kim Martin: Reeva's cousin, who described the victim's life and the impact of her death on the family
- Moleko Zac Modise, the acting national commissioner of South Africa's Correctional Services department, who defended the prison service and assured the court that it could cater for Pistorius's needs
Masipa says she was not impressed by Annette Vergeer's evidence, describing it as "slapdash, disappointing and had a negative on her credibility as a witness". On the other hand, she was impressed by the evidence given by Moleko Zac Modise. She says she has no hesitation in viewing his evidence as "true and reliable".
8.45am: Judge Masipa tells the court that although she has two assessors to help her, the decision is "mine and mine alone". She said she has taken into account the nature and seriousness of the offences for which Pistorius has been convicted, as well as factors such as retribution, deterrence and rehabilitation.
Masipa is summarising the evidence from witnesses heard in the sentencing hearing. The defence called:
- Dr Lore Hartzenberg, Pistorius's personal psychologist, who held grief and trauma counselling sessions with the athlete
- Joel Maringa, a social worker from the Department of Correctional Services, who recommended a three-year community based sentence
- Peet van Zyl, Pistorius's agent, who detailed his client's charity work
- Annette Vergeer, a social worker and registered probation officer, who claimed that prison facilities would not cater to Pistorius's needs
Oscar Pistorius sentence: what will Judge Masipa decide?
20 October 2014
Tomorrow Oscar Pistorius will finally discover whether he faces jail time for the culpable homicide of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
The prosecution wants him to serve at least ten years in prison, while his own lawyers have argued that he should serve a three-year community-based sentence, such as 16 hours of domestic cleaning a month.
The athlete's brother, Carl Pistorius, has vowed to stand by his younger sibling regardless of the sentence. "We cannot speculate ahead of final sentencing but what I do know for certain, regardless of the outcome, the three of us [himself, Oscar and their sister Aimee] will stand together and continue to stand together," he told ITV News.
Reeva's half-sister Simone Cowburn has made a plea in the Daily Mail for Judge Thokozile Masipa to hand down a heavy prison sentence. "Community service and house arrest are ridiculous," she told the newspaper. "These should be for people who are stealing or other minor offences. Not shooting somebody. Reeva deserves justice."
South Africa's Correctional Services department today denied claims that it had already prepared a prison cell for the Paralympian at Kgosi Mampuru II, formerly known as Pretoria Central Prison.
Even if Pistorius is handed a prison sentence, he could still have up to 14 days of freedom if he decides to appeal against his sentence or conviction, says South Africa's New Age newspaper.
Judge Masipa would have to hear the appeal submissions within the next two weeks and decide whether or not another court might come to a different conclusion. However, she could decide to refuse any request for bail following the sentencing tomorrow.
Other commentators in South Africa are hoping that the legacy of the trial will reach beyond Pistorius and improve conditions for the thousands of less recognisable South Africans in prison.
Gushwell Brooks at the Daily Maverick has called for an overhaul of the whole "terrible" system. "Pistorius' defence team has compellingly argued that prison is an unsuitable and unsafe place for the athlete to rehabilitate," he says. "But this is true, too, of the thousands of other offenders living behind bars."
Robyn Leslie, who works at the Wits Justice Project, which investigates remand, detention and miscarriages of justice in South Africa, believes Pistorius's "wealth, status and notoriety" will mean any prison time will be "uneventful" for him.
Writing in The Independent, she says: "The question of Pistorius's sentence – and whether it will include time in jail – should stop fascinating South Africans and the world alike. Rather, we should use this surge of interest in our criminal justice system to shine a light on the poor, dispossessed and uninformed who are trapped perilously within it."
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: 'society demands a prison sentence'
Oscar Pistorius's future was on the line in court today as the prosecution and defence made their closing arguments in his sentencing hearing.
Pistorius faces up to 15 years in jail after he was found guilty of culpable homicide last month for shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in 2013. Judge Thokozile Masipa also found Pistorius guilty of one charge of negligently discharging a firearm in a crowded restaurant in Johannesburg in January 2013.
Defence lawyer Barry Roux described Pistorius as a "victim" and urged the judge to return a community-based sentence. He pointed to the final judgment, which found that Pistorius had genuinely mistaken Reeva for an intruder, and said that no punishment can be worse than the experiences he has suffered in the last 18 months.
However, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said that the interests of society "demand a prison sentence" and that a minimum of ten years was required. He reminded the court of the "heart-wrenching" evidence given by Reeva's cousin Kim Martin. He ridiculed Pistorius for claiming that he was a victim and accused him of "shamelessly" using his disability as a mitigating factor.
Here is what we heard today:
11.25am: Prosecutor Gerrie Nel begins to pick apart the defence's argument about the attacks on Pistorius in the media. Judge Masipa interrupts to assure Nel that she will be disregarding those points. He argues that the only "reasonable sentence would be a long-term incarceration" and urges the court to let the Correctional Services department take responsibility for what happens to Pistorius after sentencing. If they cannot cater for him, then we come back to court, says Nel. He adds that "it is not even a contentious issue" because Correctional Services has made it clear that they can accommodate Pistorius's needs.
Nel says that the principle of uBuntu and restorative justice is "not a bad one" but is "not a principle that can be considered in this case at all". He says this is a matter so serious that the interests of society "demand a prison sentence". He agrees with the defence that Pistorius is unfit to possess a firearm again. Asked how long a prison sentence he is suggesting, Nel says that the "minimum that society will be happy with is ten years in prison".
Nel completes his closing argument and Judge Masipa allows defence lawyer Barry Roux to put a few final corrections to the court. Roux notes that Pistorius does not have rails in his home but does have a bench in his bathroom instead. He points out that other serious cases of culpable homicide have resulted in restorative justice. Masipa adjourns the court after thanking both sides and telling the attorneys that she was "very impressed" by the way they have conducted themselves throughout the trial. Sentencing will reconvene on Tuesday 21 October.
11.00am: The fact that Pistorius is sorry Reeva is dead "is not remorse", says prosecutor Gerrie Nel. The accused, who coped "brilliantly" in life in spite of his disability, is now "shamelessly" using his disability as a mitigating factor, says the prosecution. Nel suggests that Pistorius uses his disability when it suits him. He tells the court his house has no railings in the shower or toilet, yet because he faces prison, he suddenly needs railings. "If that is so, then it is disingenuous," says Nel. A remorseful or anxious person would not go out to a nightclub, he adds.
The prosecutor praises the testimony of Zac Modise, acting head of South Africa's Correctional Services, and condemns that of defence witness Annette Vergeer, a social worker and registered probation officer. Vergeer, who painted a very negative picture of South Africa's prisons, gave the court a "sketchy", "outdated" and "negatively biased" report, says Nel. He tells the judge he was "flabbergasted" when Vergeer admitted that she based some of her report on a speech made in 2005. Would it not be a bad day if this court decided that our prisons are not good enough for extradition from other countries around the world, asks Nel.
10.45am: Prosecutor Gerrie Nel turns to the technical aspect of his argument. He claims Pistorius is guilty of "gross negligence", bordering on dolus eventualis, a murder charge that means the accused is responsible for the foreseeable consequences of his actions. Nel cites six points from the judgment that support his argument: the size of the toilet; the calibre of ammunition; the fact that a "reasonable person" would have realised the consequence of their actions; Pistorius knew someone was behind the door; he acted too hastily; and he used excessive force.
Nel suggests there are still aspects of the case that do not make sense and claims Pistorius did not act like a "reasonable person" from the moment he heard the window open. He says Pistorius did not ask whether Reeva had heard the noise in the bathroom nor establish whether she had heard him. Pistorius is "not a victim", says Nel. "He cannot be a victim, he caused it." The prosecutor imitates the accused: "I'm a victim, feel sorry for me, the media victimised me. When I wanted the media to capture my brilliant athletic performance, I loved them; when the media write about my trial it's unfair."
10.10am: Prosecutor Gerrie Nel takes the stand. Society's interests are at stake, he tells the judge. Society will want to know what happens if someone fires four shots through a door into a closed cubicle. We have thought about the accused for months, says Nel. Now is the time to think about the deceased.
Nel says that Reeva's cousin Kim Martin, who gave evidence earlier this week, was not only representing the family, she was representing society. He argues that of all the noises discussed in court – the screams, the cricket bat, the shots – it was the "softly spoken words" of Martin that "trounced" them all. Martin's "heart-wrenching" evidence gave insight into the impact of the crime, says Nel.
The prosecutor turns to the money offered by Pistorius to Reeva's parents. Nel says money for a sold car for the death of a loved daughter cannot be seen as a positive gesture. "The offer is nothing but an attempt to influence sentence," he says. Nel argues that the timing of the offer – made in between the judgment and the sentence – shows that the offer is "in fact something terribly negative".
9.50am: Roux quotes from Pistorius's 30-day mental health evaluation. He is not a danger to society, says Roux. His condition is also likely to worsen and the risk of suicide might increase if he does not receive proper medical care.
Roux reminds the court that Zac Modise, acting head of South Africa's Correctional Services, yesterday conceded the general section of a prison would not be suitable for Pistorius. Roux again raises concerns about the risk of disease if Pistorius is permanently detained in a hospital unit. His negligence needs to be balanced against his disability and vulnerability, says Roux. "There needs to be compassion." The attorney insists that a community-based sentence is a real punishment and is not restricted to the 16 hours a month proposed earlier this week.
In conclusion, Roux urges Judge Masipa to give "serious regard" to a community based punishment, restorative justice and to strive to put "some patches on the pain".
9.30am: Roux cites from other culpable homicide cases in which the perpetrators did not go to prison. He talks about a similar case in which a man heard a bathroom window being opened in his home and fired shots into a door, only to discover that it was his wife. In another case, an employer accidentally shot his helper's grandson in the head and was left emotionally devastated.
Pistorius was young at the time of the shooting, says Roux. He did not have the wisdom people gain in later years. Roux says that no punishment can be worse than his experiences in the last 18 months. "The denigration, the humiliation, the ridicule, the blame, the false allegations – ongoing, worldwide," says Roux. "That's what he was subjected to. He stands there, giving evidence and crying, knowing the whole world is watching. He was absolutely exposed."
Roux turns to the money offered to Reeva's parents. "It is not about the money," says the attorney. It is just showing the court that the accused is taking responsibility for his actions. June and Barry Steenkamp have said they do not want the lump sum offered by Pistorius and have said they will be paying back monthly sums paid to them over the last year. Roux suggests the court can order that the money now goes to charity. Pistorius is crying silently as Roux tells the judge: "He wants to make good as far as possible."
9.00am: Defence lawyer Barry Roux is presenting his closing argument. He begins by saying that it is "beyond any argument" that the loss of a child is "the greatest devastation". But he says it is necessary to look at the facts as found by the court. Judge Masipa has accepted that Pistorius genuinely, although erroneously, believed there was an intruder in the toilet, not Reeva. Roux quotes from the judgment, in which Masipa said Pistorius did not subjectively foresee that he would kill the person behind the door, let alone the deceased, as he thought she was in the bedroom at the time.
There was a "high degree of negligence", admits Roux. But he says this cannot be isolated and must be taken in the context of the individual. "Whatever way we see it, the accused's actions were to some extent dominated by vulnerability and anxiety," says Roux. There was not any "deviousness" or "conscious unlawfulness", he says.
Roux notes that some members of society would want to see the maximum penalty imposed. Some would want the death penalty, he says. "But that is not the test." Roux says Pistorius must be sentenced with the "interests of society" in mind. On a slight tangent, Roux tells the court that a man on a bus had recommended he read a book called uBuntu and the Law by Nyoko Muvangua and Drucilla Cornell. The text, about the southern African concept of uBuntu, which roughly translates as humanity, explores the way in which restorative justice and compassion can be applied in law for the best interests of society.
The defence lawyer says that in the beginning there was "an accused and a victim". But he says "very shortly after this, the accused became the victim". Roux says he has "never, ever" seen such unfair attacks as on Pistorius shortly after the shooting. False reports, spread by media and social media, claimed he had crushed Reeva's skull with the cricket bat and that he was taking steroids. Roux says he can see why the National Prosecuting Authority refused to allow Shrien Dewani's trial to be televised. Pistorius was made to look at a photo of the deceased, whom he loved, before the image was published worldwide under the banner of "cold blooded murderer", says Roux. The "extreme emotions" suffered by the accused are not in dispute, says the lawyer.
Five questions for Judge Masipa
The sentencing hearing for Oscar Pistorius heard from six witnesses, including the athlete's personal psychiatrist, Reeva Steenkamp's cousin and the head of South Africa's Department of Correctional Services. The two sides have debated in detail the conditions Pistorius might face in prison and the extent to which the athlete feels remorse for killing his girlfriend on Valentine's Day last year. After being found guilty of culpable homicide and negligently discharging a firearm in a crowded Johannesburg restaurant, Pistorius's punishment could range from a suspended jail sentence and a fine to 15 years in prison.
Under South Africa's sentencing guidelines, Judge Masipa must consider the seriousness of the offences and the personal circumstances of the offender, as well as public interest. Quite separate from public opinion, this concerns deterrence, rehabilitation, protection and retribution.
Here are five questions she will need to consider:
Is a community sentence appropriate?
Two defence witnesses have recommended that Pistorius be placed under house arrest for three years, carrying out 16 hours of community service, such as cleaning, each month. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel repeatedly described the proposed sentence as "shockingly inappropriate", perhaps as a subtle reminder to the judge that under South African case law an appeal can be made on the grounds that a sentence is deemed "shocking, startling or disturbingly inappropriate". Reeva's cousin Kim Martin said Pistorius "needs to pay for what he has done" and that a community based sentence would enable him to think his actions were acceptable. "We need a message to society that you can't do this," she told the court.
Will prison cater to Pistorius's physical needs?
Annette Vergeer, a social worker and registered probation officer, claimed there were no baths available in prison and Pistorius risked falling on slippery cement floors, with no rails in toilets or showers. She even suggested he might have his prosthetic legs taken away from him. However, Moleko Zac Modise, the acting national commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services, flew into Pretoria to defend the prison service after hearing her claims. He said he could "confidently" confirm that nearby prisons had hospital units that could cater to Pistorius's disability.
Is prison safe for Pistorius?
Vergeer painted a very negative picture of South Africa's prisons, citing risks of gang rape, violence, disease and drugs. She claimed that Pistorius would be particularly vulnerable to these dangers because of his disability. Defence lawyer Barry Roux also read out claims from local media that Pistorius faced threats from gang leaders inside prison. However, Correctional Services insisted Vergeer's evidence is "inaccurate" and said that Pistorius would be placed in a hospital unit, possibly in a single cell, away from the general prison.
What would be best in terms of rehabilitation?
The defence has argued that a community based sentence would give Pistorius – a first-time offender – a far better chance of rehabilitation. Vergeer says prison would "break" Pistorius and "take away his future", while social worker Joel Maringa suggested prison would "destroy" the athlete. But the acting national commissioner of Correctional Services told Judge Masipa that rehabilitation was the aim in prison and that sessions such as anger management, counselling and skills development are offered to inmates.
Is Pistorius sorry?
Reeva Steenkamp's cousin Kim Martin told the court that she did not believe Pistorius's public apology to her family was "genuine" or "sincere". However, Dr Lore Hartzenberg, Pistorius's personal psychologist, insisted that his remorse and pain are genuine and that he has taken responsibility for the fact that Reeva died because of his "wrongdoings". The court heard that Pistorius had written to Reeva's parents to apologise shortly after her death, but their representatives advised him not to send the letters, and that he "desperately" wanted a private meeting with the family to apologise.
Oscar Pistorius sentenced for killing of Reeva Steenkamp – day four live
The sentencing of Oscar Pistorius resumed this morning, with the national commissioner of South Africa's Correctional Services testifying about the country's prison conditions. Moleko Zac Modise is the second state witness in the sentencing hearing, which is now in its fourth day.
Pistorius faces up to 15 years in jail after he was found guilty of culpable homicide last month for shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in 2013. Judge Thokozile Masipa also found Pistorius guilty of one charge of negligently discharging a firearm in a crowded restaurant in Johannesburg in January 2013. Nel is expected to call one or two more witnesses before Judge Masipa decides Pistorius's fate.
Here is what we have heard so far today:
1.00pm: The court reconvenes and prosecutor Gerrie Nel says he will not be calling any more witnesses.
His surprise announcement comes after an incident in the lunch break when Oscar Pistorius's sister Aimee was allegedly verbally abused by one of Reeva's friends Mikey Schultz. She was in tears after Schultz, a self-confessed killer, reportedly mouthed the words "f*** you" at her. Pistorius family apparently requested that he be barred from the court.
Schultz admitted killing mining magnate Brett Kebble in 2005 but was given indemnity from prosecution in exchange for testifying against another criminal. He told reporters outside court today that he is there only to support his friend Jared Mortimer, who was expected to give evidence about his run-in with Pistorius in a nightclub in July. Schultz denies saying anything to Aimee Pistorius.
Mortimer returned to court after the lunch break along with former football player Mark Batchelor, who testified against Pistorius earlier in the trial.
11.00am: Modise gives the court specific details about the conditions at the hospital unit at Kgosi Mampuru, a prison in Pretoria. The hospital has five communal wards, each with one shower and one bath. There are 22 single cells, with seven nurses during the day and two at night. There is only one resident doctor and five psychologists for 7,000 inmates, including the general section of the prison.
Defence lawyer Barry Roux asks how many people in the hospital unit suffer from tuberculosis. He cites from the National Health Laboratory Service, which says there is a "high rate" of TB in the country's prisons. Modise says the hospital has a "GeneXpert" machine that can identify TB and ensure that patients are isolated and provided with the right care. He points out that the risk of exposure to TB equally applies to general hospitals in the community.
Modise assures the court that Pistorius will "absolutely" be sent to a hospital unit, but he says that the athlete will still have to undergo an initial assessment of his physical needs when he is first detained. Roux raises concerns that a place in the hospital unit is therefore not guaranteed.
10.00am: Modise says overcrowding in South African prisons is down from 63 per cent to 31 per cent. He says "there should be no doubt in the minds of South African people" that Pistorius's needs can be accommodated.
Defence lawyer Barry Roux begins his cross-examination. Roux says that figures presented before parliament yesterday, from the Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons, showed that incidents of assault and torture have increased from 71 cases last year to 109 this year. There was also an increase in the use of force by prison officials against inmates, from just three cases in 2010 to 191 in 2014. Modise says the figures include a few private prisons, where the department has since intervened.
Roux asks Modise if he has heard about threats from prisoners against Pistorius. Modise has not. Roux says Khalil Subjee, the self-style "General" of the 26's gang, allegedly warned that Pistorius's wealth would not buy him a lavish prison lifestyle, and said he would be "taken out". Roux says he has been called by several prison wardens this week, who claim their prisons have no shower doors, that tiles are broken and that there are no baths in the general section of the jails. Modise denies that there are no shower doors, but confirms that the general section of the prison would be unsuitable for Pistorius. He thinks Pistorius should be accommodated in the hospital unit, which has baths and facilities to accommodate his disability.
Judge Masipa adjourns for a tea break and thanks the court for the applause they gave her earlier when Nel wished her a happy birthday.
9.30am: Moleko Zac Modise, the acting national commissioner of Correctional Services, is painting a very different picture of South Africa's prisons to that presented by defence witness Annette Vergeer. There are sports and recreation facilities, including athletics, as well as anger management, life skills, family counselling, formal education and skills development, he says. Asked about the prison complaints system, Modise says officials have to deal with inmates' complaints daily and that there are independent assessors.
Modise admits that there are gangs within prisons, but it is an issue that they are trying to deal with. He says inmates can be placed in a single cell or in a hospital unit. Yes, South Africa's facilities are old, but they are arguably the best in Africa and even compare favourably with facilities in the UK and New York, says Modise.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel refers to the evidence given by Vergeer claiming that there are no baths or rails in toilets and showers to help people with disabilities. Modise says this is not correct. Prisons have modified entrances, ramps, rails in toilets, showers and baths. The department deals with 128 disabled people on a daily basis, including inmates with partial and total amputation of their limbs, he says. Modise says that from time to time people do a "desktop exercise" in reviewing prison conditions, but it is important that people get into the facilities to get a "proper and informed" view of what the department is doing to improve them.
9.00am: Moleko Zac Modise, the acting national commissioner of Correctional Services, takes the stand. Yesterday his department issued a statement regarding claims made by defence witness Annette Vergeer. She cited disease, gang violence and rape as risks in jail and said that short-staffed prisons do not have the facilities for physically disabled people. Correctional Services said it had "noted with concern inaccurate serious allegations that sought to cast doubt on the state of our correctional centres".
Nel confirms with Modise that only yesterday, by coincidence, he presented an annual report in parliament, where he confirmed that prisons are "ready to admit and detain people with disabilities in our facilities". The witness tells the court that there are facilities in the country that can deal with every kind of offender. A health assessment is carried out within six hours of admission to jail and Pistorius's prosthetic legs could not be taken from him without written instruction, he says.
8.45am: Prosecutor Gerrie Nel wishes Judge Masipa a happy birthday and says the court will try to make the day as "enjoyable as possible". He then resumes his questioning of witness Kim Martin, Reeva Steenkamp's cousin. Martin says she did not feel that Pistorius's apology at the beginning of the trial was "genuine" or "sincere". She says she is "very fearful of the accused" and has tried to put him out of her mind, even making a point of not mentioning his name in her home.
"I really believe the accused, Mr Pistorius, needs to pay for what he has done," she tells the court. Martin says her family are not "seeking revenge" but they feel that to take someone's life who is behind a door unarmed and harmless "needs sufficient punishment". Martin tells the judge: "Everyone has suffered here. We need to send a message to society that you cannot do this and get away with it." She suggests that a community based sentence would enable Pistorius to feel that what he had done was acceptable.
Answering a few short questions from defence lawyer Barry Roux, Martin says she was not aware that Pistorius had written comprehensive letters of apology to Reeva's parents, which were not handed over on the advice of a Steenkamp family representative. Roux asks how Martin would feel about Pistorius going to prison if the conditions are not humane. "I would not want that for anybody," she says. Roux tells the court that Pistorius "desperately" wants to make a private apology to the family. Martin stands down.
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: what the judge has heard so far
Reeva Steenkamp's cousin Kim Martin "hoped to god" that Oscar Pistorius was cheating when she first heard on the radio that he had killed his unnamed girlfriend. In an emotional day in the Pretoria court, Martin emphasised the impact of Pistorius's crime, describing how Reeva's death had "ruined" her family. The victim's parents and friends broke down in tears as Martin spoke about growing up with Reeva and her cousin's achievements.
As the first witness for the prosecution, Martin's testimony marked a sharp change in focus from the defendant to the victim. Over the last few days, four defence witnesses have described the affect of the shooting on Pistorius and offered reasons why he should be handed a non-custodial sentence. The prosecution is expected to hear from two or three more witnesses.
Their mitigating evidence will be taken into account by Judge Thokozile Masipa, who is expected to sentence Pistorius later this week. Last month Masipa cleared Pistorius of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year and convicted him of the lesser charge of culpable homicide. He was also found guilty of negligently discharging a firearm in a crowded restaurant in Johannesburg in January 2013. His punishment could range from a suspended jail sentence and a fine to 15 years in prison.
Here is what the first five witnesses have told the court:
Dr Lore Hartzenberg: Pistorius's personal psychologist gave an insight into the grief and trauma counselling sessions she held with the athlete. Hartzenberg insisted Pistorius's remorse and pain were genuine. "We are left with a broken man who has lost everything," she told the court. She said Pistorius had not mentioned any plans to resume his athletic career but had expressed a desire to work at a school in Mozambique.
Joel Maringa: The Department of Correctional Services social worker recommended that Pistorius undergo three years of house arrest and community service rather than a prison sentence. He suggested 16 hours a month of domestic cleaning. "We are basically not saying that he should be destroyed because he will still be coming back into the community," he told the court. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel described the suggested sentence as "shockingly inappropriate".
Peet van Zyl: Pistorius's agent rattled off a long list of his client's charity work, including personal donations to help people in need of prosthetics and support for Unicef and other major charities. Pistorius was also due to launch his own charitable foundation in July 2013, said Van Zyl. He confirmed that all of Pistorius's sponsorship contracts had now been officially terminated. In cross-examination, Nel pointed out that charity work was common practice for sportsmen and accused Van Zyl of viewing his client as a "poor victim" in the case.
Annette Vergeer: The social worker and registered probation officer told the court she thought it was "highly unlikely" Pistorius will reoffend and claimed that prison facilities would not cater to his needs. She cited overcrowding, drugs, violence and rape as risks in jail and said that short-staffed prisons do not have the facilities for physically disabled people. Prison would "break him as a person", she told the court. However, under pressure from Nel, Vergeer admitted that her findings were not necessarily applicable to every prison in the country and was partly based on information from up to nine years ago.
Kim Martin: Reeva's cousin broke down in tears as she recounted the moment that she heard on the radio that Pistorius had killed his then unnamed girlfriend. Martin said she froze and said to her husband: "I hope to god he is cheating on Reeva." Earlier in the afternoon, Martin described how she and Reeva had grown up together and how Reeva's parents were always financially strained, despite working very hard. She told the court that losing Reeva was the worst experience she had ever been through and said it had "ruined" her whole family. "It has ruined Aunty June and Uncle Barry," she told the court. "Reeva was everything to them."
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: day three
The sentencing of Oscar Pistorius resumed this morning with prosecutor Gerrie Nel continuing his combative cross-examination of witness Annette Vergeer. The social worker and probation officer yesterday warned that a prison sentence would "break" Pistorius and leave him vulnerable to violence, rape and disease. Nel has been picking apart Vergeer's report, showing that some of her facts are based on research that is up to nine years old.
The athlete faces up to 15 years in jail after he was found guilty of culpable homicide last month for shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in 2013. Judge Thokozile Masipa also found Pistorius guilty of one charge of negligently discharging a firearm in a crowded restaurant in Johannesburg in January 2013. Nel is expected to call at least two witnesses before Judge Masipa decides Pistorius's fate.
Here is what we have heard so far today:
1.45pm: Reeva Steenkamp's cousin Kim Martin tells the court about the one occasion on which she met Pistorius. He flew Reeva to Cape Town in January 2013 and they met at a restaurant near a beach where Martin and Reeva had once scattered their grandfather's ashes. Martin said she was "quite nervous and quite excited to meet this famous person" and excited that she was going to see Reeva. But the restaurant service was "terrible", says Martin, and everything went wrong with their order. Pistorius was a "little bit agitated" but was chatting to her daughters and giving them advice about boarding school. Martin says she thought at the time that Pistorius was "a very nice person" but did not notice much affection between him and her cousin. When Pistorius left the table to answer a phone call, Martin asked Reeva if she was happy. Reeva apparently smiled and pulled her shoulders up, saying: "Yes but we need to talk." Martin says Pistorius then returned to the table and she never got a chance to ask Reeva what she meant.
Pistorius passes a note to his lawyers in court, as prosecutor Gerrie Nel asks if he can wrap up for the day and finish questioning Martin tomorrow. Defence lawyer Barry Roux tells the court that he will not be cross-examining the witness and just has two questions to ask. Judge Masipa allows Nel the "indulgence" of finishing early but warns that she is booked up for the next four weeks if the sentencing hearing over-runs.
1.25pm: Judge Masipa checks that Martin is ready to proceed. Barry has been very tearful throughout the testimony and Pistorius has also broken down in the dock. "It is the worst experience I have ever, ever, ever been through," Martin continues. "June was hysterical, she was very medicated, shrugging her shoulders the whole time and Barry was crying, crying, crying..." Martin says Reeva's death has "ruined" her whole family. "It has ruined Aunty June and Uncle Barry. Reeva was everything to them."
June too is growing emotional as Martin says she was worried about letting down her aunt and uncle in court. Martin says her uncle would have loved to take the stand but feared he would "lose it". Asked how Reeva's death has affected her health, Martin says she is in trauma counselling, she has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety and her children are in therapy. Through tears, Martin tells the court that her daughter spent two weeks in an institution for young people to help her with coping mechanisms for her grief.
1.15pm: Martin goes into further detail about June and Barry Steenkamp's financial situation. Barry's business collapsed and he started a new business supplying wood chips, while June ran a canteen for jockeys on race days at a local race course and later opened up her own small restaurant for workers in an industrial area of Port Elizabeth.
Despite financial hard times, they were "very generous", says Martin. Their home was always open to anyone who needed to stay, as well as stray animals because June could never say no to them. This raises a small smile from June, who is comforting her husband in court.
Martin recalls the moment she found out about Reeva's death. She was in the car with her husband and heard on the radio that Pistorius had allegedly shot his girlfriend. Martin said she froze and said to her husband: "I hope to god he is cheating on Reeva." The court takes an adjournment as Martin breaks down in tears.
1.00pm: The focus of the hearing turns from Oscar Pistorius to victim Reeva Steenkamp, as her cousin Kim Martin takes the witness stand for the prosecution. Martin's father is the brother of Barry Steenkamp, Reeva's father. Martin, who is 12 years older than Reeva, recalls how they were very close growing up, spending all of their spare time on Barry's farm riding horses. She tells the court about a family poodle, which became paralysed. Reeva, who loved animals, refused to allow it to be put down and carried it everywhere "becoming its legs".
Martin says the financial situation was always "strained" for the Steenkamps, despite both Barry and June being "very hard workers". Reeva worked hard at school and won a bursary for her law degree. It was after a "life-changing" horse-riding accident when she broke her back that she decided to pursue her modelling career. She believed that would put her in a position to look after her parents. "Reeva was just like that, she wanted to look after her parents," says Martin.
Reeva dated one of her father's jockeys, who was emotionally abusive, says Martin. She later had another relationship with a man called Warren who Martin says treated Reeva very well. However, their relationship ended as Reeva was thinking about settling down and he was not ready to have children. At the time, Reeva told her cousin that the break-up was "worse than divorce".
11.00am: Vergeer is asked why she believes prison will "break" Pistorius. She mentions a lack of psychological and psychiatric treatment available, although concedes he could have access to his own private treatment. "We have to weigh that up against a broken family who will never get a loved one back," says Nel. Vergeer agrees, but denies his accusation that she views Pistorius as a victim. "I never said he was a victim but he does not become a stone."
The prosecutor turns to a point Vergeer made in her report that containers of condoms are available in prisons and that the "reality of Aids is no longer denied". Nel wonders if she has a problem with free condoms in male prisons and asks if she is discriminating against consensual homosexual sex. He suggests the statement is a "clear indication" of her "bias against prisons". Vergeer says it is not a problem, but a fact. She adds that with overcrowding in prisons there is little privacy and suggests that inmates might be exposed to their fellow prisoners having sex.
In summary, Nel puts it to the witness that her report is not informed by facts and that she is biased towards any form of imprisonment. He accuses her of making "sweeping statements". Vergeer says she can only provide an opinion and it is up to the court to decide upon a suitable sentence.
Nel raises the case of Shrien Dewani – another high-profile trial currently taking place in South Africa. He points out that UK courts were so convinced that South African prisons adhered to international standards that they agreed to extradite Dewani from Britain to South Africa. Defence lawyer Barry Roux later asks Vergeer if she knows where Dewani is being detained. Vergeer does not know the answer, but his question will serve as a reminder to Judge Masipa that Dewani is not being held in prison but in a mental health facility.
Roux reads a press statement from Reeva's parents June and Barry, in which they clarify the payments made by Pistorius. The athlete contributed 6,000 rand a month (£340 at today's exchange rate) towards their living expenses from March 2013 to September 2014, which was kept confidential at the request of Pistorius's lawyers. They plan to repay this money as soon as possible. Pistorius also sold his car and offered them a lump sum of 375,000 rand (£21,279), but this was refused.
As the court adjourns for lunch, Nel says he plans to bring three or four witnesses to the stand. He tells Judge Masipa it will not take long. "I'm not taking you at your word for that," she smiles.
10.00am: Nel again suggests that 16 hours of community service a month is "shockingly inappropriate" and "cannot be considered". The idea that Pistorius could work with disabled children would hardly be "out of his comfort zone", a requirement of punishment stated in Vergeer's report, he says. The witness suggests Pistorius could do community work at a police station or museum instead.
If it is proved that prison can cater to Pistorius's needs, will the whole argument that he should not have a custodial sentence fall away, asks Nel. Vergeer says she is showing that there are alternatives available and repeats that Pistorius would be vulnerable – for example if he was pushed over on a cement floor.
Nel says it is "bothering" him that Vergeer is basing her recommendation on prison facilities not the crime. He asks her if she would recommend a non-custodial sentence if Pistorius had been convicted of murder. Vergeer refuses to elaborate on something that has not happened.
9.45am: Gerrie Nel turns to a previous sentencing of 'Sunday Rapist' Jaco Steyn, in which Vergeer testified. "You were under the impression that he had remorse and would not reoffend, but he did," says Nel. Judge Masipa intervenes to point out that sentencing can only look at the likelihood of reoffending. Nel claims he is not "attacking" the witness, just stating the facts. Vergeer says her report was based on the facts available at the time and has since been taken out of context.
The prosecutor asks Vergeer if she has any statistics on disabled prisoners. She does not. He tells the court that around 128 disabled people enter prison in South Africa each year and prisons have been catering for disabled people for ten years. Nel asks the witness if she thinks society would want a heavy punishment for the "horrible" death of Reeva Steenkamp. Vergeer says it is not for society, but the court, to decide Pistorius's punishment. "You cannot satisfy public opinion," she says.
9.15am: Prosecutor Gerrie Nel continues to cross-examine Annette Vergeer, a social worker and registered probation officer, who yesterday told the court that prison would "break" Oscar Pistorius. Nel is looking at where Vergeer obtained her statistics about the conditions of South Africa's prisons. Vergeer painted a very negative picture of the country's jails yesterday, citing overcrowding, drugs, violence and rape as risks in jail and said that short-staffed prisons do not have the facilities for physically disabled people. Vergeer is now admitting that some of her statistics have come from information published up to nine years ago.
Nel says one of his witnesses will testify that Pistorius would not have his prosthetic legs taken away from him and that there are people in South Africa's prisons in wheelchairs. Nel puts intense pressure on the witness, testing her on the prison complaints process and the country's Correctional Services Act. Vergeer argues that she cannot know everything about every law. He disproves her claim that there are no baths available in South Africa's prisons and suggests she has not verified her facts.
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: day two
1.30pm: Prosecutor Gerrie Nel turns to Vergeer's claim that Pistorius is making voluntary payments to the family of Reeva Steenkamp. He says Reeva's parents do not want "blood money". They have rejected a lump sum from Pistorius and will return the monthly payments that have been made, he says. Vergeer admits that she found this out only after writing her report.
Nel says that he will be calling a witness from correctional services who will dispute the evidence Vergeer had given on prison conditions. He quizzes her on exactly where her evidence has come from. Vergeer admits that she has not done group work in prisons for ten years, but toured one prison two years ago and visits other prisons, speaking to prison workers. She concedes that she cannot say that there is no prison in South Africa that could cater for Pistorius.
Nel confronts the witness for "sniggering" in one of her responses. He asks if she thinks it is appropriate to laugh in the high court. Vergeer says it is just a human reaction and was not meant to be disrespectful – and suggests that some observers may find Nel's aggressive manner disrespectful.
11.30am: Vergeer continues to suggest reasons why a prison sentence is inappropriate for Pistorius. She cites overcrowding, violence, rape and sodomy as risks in jail and repeats that short-staffed prisons do not have the facilities for physically disabled people. She recommends a community-based sentence.
State prosecutor Gerrie Nel begins cross-examination and quickly establishes that Vergeer is being paid by the defence in a private capacity, although she does also work for the state.
Nel tries to establish what Vergeer meant when she said Pistorius accepted responsibility for his actions "within his framework". Nel and Vergeer go back and forth about the line of questioning before Judge Masipa steps in and tells Vergeer that she might spend "days" on the witness stand if she does not listen carefully to the questions. Vergeer explains that she meant Pistorius had accepted that he fired shots through the toilet door, believing there was an intruder. He took responsibility for the fact that Reeva passed away because of his "wrongdoings" but not because he intended to kill her.
11.00am: Annette Vergeer, a social worker and registered probation officer, reads from a long report summarising much of what has been heard during the trial. She tells the court that Pistorius's punishment must ensure rehabilitation, deter others from repeating the crime and factor in the interests of the public, victim's family and the accused. She adds that this does not mean "satisfying public opinion but serving public interest". She notes that Pistorius makes a voluntary monthly payment to the family of Reeva Steenkamp, indicative of remorse.
Vergeer is of the opinion that it is "highly unlikely" Pistorius will reoffend and says that prison facilities do not cater to his physical and mental needs. "All that prison will do is punish him in a manner that is not constructive," she says. For example, Vergeer says, Pistorius's disability would mean he would not be able to shower. Prison would "break him as a person", she says.
Vergeer suggests that Pistorius could combine the type of domestic cleaning mentioned yesterday by social worker Joel Maringa and community service with children suffering from special needs. Vergeer goes into detail about a Gateway programme that helps children in other countries such as Mozambique.
10.30am: Nel attempts to argue that a donation of R20,000 (about £1,100 at today's exchange rate) to two children, mentioned by Van Zyl yesterday, was actually part of a business contract stipulating that the money had to go to charity. But Van Zyl insists that it was Pistorius's idea to donate money rather than take it as a payment. "It is money that Mr Pistorius could have earned and kept, but he didn't," says the witness. Van Zyl mentions two other occasions when Pistorius made donations from his own funds.
After a short adjournment, defence lawyer Barry Roux begins his re-examination. He seeks to prove that Pistorius used his own money to support charities, despite the fact that some of his charity work was linked to his sponsorship deals. Van Zyl is excused from the witness stand. The defence's fourth witness is Annette Vergeer, a social worker and registered probation officer.
9.15am: Prosecutor Gerrie Nel is cross-examining defence witness Peet van Zyl, Oscar Pistorius's manager. Van Zyl yesterday read to the court a long list of Pistorius's charity work. Nel is pointing out that charity work is not unique to Pistorius. Many other sporting stars carry out charity work and it would "not be clever" for a sportsman to refuse requests from charities, says Nel. Van Zyl agrees and concedes that charity work can be seen as a marketing opportunity for some sportsmen.
Nel asks Van Zyl who is to blame for the fact that Pistorius now has fewer opportunities in his career. The witness says only Pistorius can be blamed. Nel retrieves an email from Van Zyl to Pistorius's defence lawyers, in which he blames the "state and media" for the fact that Pistorius gets fewer requests to give inspirational speeches at events. If the media had reported the facts correctly, maybe there would still be some opportunities for Pistorius's career, says Van Zyl. However, he says to blame the state was an "error of judgement" on his part. Nel says he is "flabbergasted" that Van Zyl would include this if he did not mean it and suggests he made the comment because he views Pistorius as the "poor victim of this case".
Van Zyl testified yesterday that Pistorius received an honorary doctorate from the University of Strathclyde in 2012 as a result of his work on prosthetics. Nel reads excerpts from the university's citation, arguing that he was given the degree for his sporting achievements. Defence lawyer Barry Roux points out that Nel has ignored several paragraphs about Pistorius's charity work. Judge Masipa asks him to read the extract in full. Nel does so, but continues to stress that charity work is not peculiar to Pistorius.
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: day one
1.20pm: Pistorius's manager Peet van Zyl continues listing his client's charity work. Defence lawyer Barry Roux asks about the athlete's plans for the future before Reeva Steenkamp was shot on 14 February 2013. Van Zyl says Pistorius had secured "substantial" contracts worth four or five times those he had before the London Olympics. He was also weeks away from announcing two new sponsors. Following Pistorius's conviction last month "all contracts have been officially terminated", the manager confirms. He says he has not discussed his client's future career since the shooting, taking the conscious decision to make no plans until he knows the outcome of the trial.
The court has adjourned for the day so that prosecutor Gerrie Nel has time to read through the defence papers and carry out his own research before cross-examining the witness. Tomorrow, the court will hear from the defence's final witness, a probation officer.
Midday: The third witness on the stand is Pistorius's manager Peet van Zyl, who also testified during the trial. He is rattling off a long list of Pistorius's charity work. This included personal donations to help people in need of prosthetics, as well as support for charities such as the British Leonard Cheshire Disability charity and Unicef. He was also due to launch his own charitable foundation in July 2013 after working closely with Strathclyde University in Glasgow to help disabled people regain their mobility. He has met with many children, adults and families affected by disability, including a child who was so excited to meet him that he bit him. Pistorius suffered blisters and almost put his racing at risk after pushing a girl in a wheelchair in a 5km fun run, says Van Zyl. He also mentions that Lord Coe and Sir Bobby Charlton were among those who asked Pistorius to help out with charitable work.
11.30am: Gerrie Nel cross-examines Maringa. The prosecutor says three years under house arrest is "shockingly inappropriate". He suggests Maringa is unfamiliar with the findings of the court. "He will not do as he wishes," says Maringa. "If someone doesn't comply with the conditions of correctional supervision then the accused can be subjected to any other sentence." Nel finishes his questions and Judge Masipa asks for more details about the type of work involved. Maringa says he is suggesting two eight-hour days, twice a month, of domestic work such as cleaning.
11.00am: Nel is asking Dr Lore Hartzenberg if Pistorius ever mentioned that he is now involved romantically with someone else. Hartzenberg says she has read reports that he had met a young lady but this was never brought up in her sessions with Pistorius. The witness admits under questioning that she cried during the trial when Pistorius was asked to take off his prosthetic legs in court. Nel completes his cross-examination.
Joel Maringa, a social worker in the Department of Correctional Services, has been called to the witness stand. He reads from a prepared statement on why Pistorius should undergo house arrest, rather than a prison sentence. He gives a short history of Pistorius's sporting career and says the athlete would be a good candidate for house arrest, subject to strict conditions. He recommends that Pistorius should not be allowed to own guns. He suggests Pistorius could undertake 16 hours of community service a month; for example, at the nearby Transvaal Museum or Pretoria's Little Company of Mary Hospital.
9.30am: Prosecutor Gerrie Nel begins to cross-examine the defence's first witness Dr Lore Hartzenberg. He pushes Hartzenberg to say whether or not Pistorius planned to resume his career as an athlete during their sessions. She insists that Pistorius never expressed his desire to pursue his athletic career. "Did you not give him hope for the future?" asks Nel. "I gave him hope for the next day," says Hartzenberg. After Nel pushes her again, she says that the only time Pistorius mentioned future plans was when he said that nothing would make him happier to work at a school that his uncle is affiliated to in Mozambique.
Nel repeatedly poses questions designed to make Hartzenberg and the court think about the impact of Reeva's death on her parents and family. The prosecutor turns to Pistorius's relationship with Reeva, pointing out that they had not been together for very long. Hartzenberg says Pistorius felt that he had met the right person. "In his heart and mind, Ms Steenkamp was the one," she tells the court.
9.00am: Oscar Pistorius's personal psychologist, Dr Lore Hartzenberg, is the first defence witness on the stand. Hartzenberg admits she hesitated about coming forward as a witness as she had agreed with Pistorius that she would not get involved in the merits of the case. She is asked to give an insight into the personal sessions with the athlete. "Some of the sessions were just him weeping, crying and me holding him," she says. "Other sessions we could get somewhere." The sessions began as grief counselling and this evolved into trauma counselling, she says.
Hartzenberg reveals that Pistorius's feelings of "guilt and remorse" often overwhelmed him and he often had to excuse himself because he was retching, she says. He was trembling, sweating and pale, the symptoms of trauma and anxiety. Hartzenberg says she can "confirm his remorse and pain to be genuine". His concerns for Reeva's parents formed an "unremitting theme" throughout their contact, she says. His only opportunity to apologise to them was in public during the trial and he was attacked as a result. "He felt that he was damned if he did and damned if he did not."
Pistorius expressed longing for Reeva and felt a void without her, says Hartzenberg. He recognised that it was he who was ultimately responsible for her death and directed anger and blame towards himself. The abuse that Pistorius has suffered on social media and in "malevolent" public reports has had a "significant detrimental effect on his emotional functioning", says Hartzenberg. "We are left with a broken man who has lost everything."
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: what you need to know
What sentence does Oscar Pistorius face?
The sentence for culpable homicide is largely at the judge's discretion. Pistorius could be jailed for up to 15 years or he could be given a fine, a suspended sentence or correctional supervision. Legal experts say the maximum prison time is rarely handed out and Pistorius would be entitled to seek parole after serving half of his sentence. Correctional supervision could include anything from community service to a rehabilitation programme. Kelly Phelps, a CNN legal analyst, says a typical sentence is five to eight years. "But it is a principle of South African law that the sentence should be tailored to the culprit as a whole person, as opposed to the crime."
What conditions would Oscar Pistorius face in prison?
Conditions in South African prisons vary, but one nationwide issue is overcrowding. The country's prisons have an occupancy rate of 128 per cent, according to statistics from the International Centre for Prison Studies, meaning that they hold almost a third more inmate than they were designed for. In some prisons, inmates are kept locked up for 23 hours a day, with just one hour outside their cell. In one prison, the government is investigating claims that inmates were punished with electric shocks, beatings and forced injections. Laurie Pieters, an offender profiler and criminologist, has described prison in South Africa as "notoriously a very dangerous place" and he said during the trial that Pistorius would be at risk because of his disability as well as his notoriety. "Everybody knows who he is. You are going to have one lot targeting him for money and then maybe even others offering him protection for money," he told the Daily Telegraph. However, Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi, project coordinator for Johannesburg civil rights group Wits Justice Project, believes the athlete's medical needs would be taken into account. She told CNN he could be sent to a prison with better medical facilities or wheelchair access.
Will Oscar Pistorius meet Reeva Steenkamp's family?
After Pistorius was convicted, Reeva Steenkamp's parents June and Barry requested a meeting with the athlete. In an interview with BBC3 following the verdict, Steenkamp's father said he could only come to terms with their loss once he had questioned the athlete himself, face to face. "It won't be anything nice or anything like that, but I'd like to sit down and talk to him," he said. "And I'm sure that will come about." Pistorius had previously requested to speak to them, but they were not ready for the confrontation at the time. Steenkamp's mother June said she was "very, very disappointed" with the verdict and was astonished that the court believed it was an accident. "I wanted the truth, I don't think we got the truth," she concluded. "That's the whole point. We did not get the truth."
Will there be an appeal against the verdict?
Both sides can apply for leave to appeal if they believe the judge made an error in law. According to legal experts, the defence could form grounds for appeal arguing that the unprecedented broadcast of the court sessions rendered it an unfair trial. Others say the prosecution might argue that Masipa applied the test for dolus eventualis incorrectly. Usually an appellant will rely on numerous grounds, says David Dadic, a litigation attorney based in Johannesburg. Steenkamp's family are also expected to continue a civil claim, which has been on hold during the trial.
Will Oscar Pistorius race in the Olympics again?
The International Paralympic Committee has said Pistorius could resume his career once he has served his sentence and the South African Olympic Committee has confirmed that it has no regulations barring athletes with a criminal record. Pistorius, known as the Blade Runner, was last year cleared to race overseas after appealing his bail terms, but chose not to while he focused on his murder trial. His agent Peet van Zyl told The Guardian that competing at the moment is not an option but that they would "sit down and take stock" after the sentencing hearing.
Oscar Pistorius was 'on phone to ex' on eve of shooting
Oscar Pistorius spoke to his former girlfriend Jenna Edkins hours before he killed Reeva Steenkamp on 14 February last year, according to a new book by two South African journalists.
Pistorius was last month convicted of culpable homicide for the Valentine's Day shooting and will be sentenced on 13 October.
A book by Eyewitness News journalists Barry Bateman and Mandy Wiener claims police investigators failed to realise Pistorius had spoken to his ex-girlfriend Edkins because her phone number was registered in her father's name. The number had been saved under the name "Babyshoes".
The book, called Behind the Door, claims Pistorius was talking to his ex-girlfriend for nine minutes just before he arrived home at around 6pm on 13 February.
Edkins, who dated Pistorius on and off for five years from 2008, said it was common knowledge that they had remained friends over the years and she did not want to be involved in any media hype around "this terrible situation".
A member of the prosecution team denied that the state had missed a crucial piece of evidence, suggesting that the phone call would have been considered character evidence and the state would have struggled to persuade Judge Thokozile Masipa about the value of the call.
While reading the conviction, Masipa dismissed phone messages between Steenkamp and Pistorius, saying they could not be used to prove anything for the state or defence. "Normal relationships are dynamic and unpredictable most of the time, while human beings are fickle," she said. "None of the evidence of a loving relationship, or a relationship turned sour, can assist this court."
A source close to the defence said they knew about the call and that Edkins had been prepared to testify for them if the prosecution introduced the phone records as a "smoking gun".
The book also claims that Pistorius's brother Carl was close to being charged for defeating the ends of justice after police said he had tampered with the athlete's phone in the days after Steenkamp was shot. The entire call history and every WhatsApp message had reportedly been deleted, as well as several messages sent to the device after the shooting.
The Pistorius family have said they are not aware of any deletions on the athlete's phone that could have affected the trial.
Oscar Pistorius trial: 'there is still a missing link'
The parents of Reeva Steenkamp believe there is more to what happened on the night of their daughter's death than what has emerged in court.
Earlier this month, Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide after he shot his girlfriend Reeva four times through a toilet door on Valentine's Day last year.
But Barry and June Steenkamp have said, for them, it was not "the right verdict". In an interview with Australian channel SBS One, broadcast last night, Barry said he does not believe Pistorius's account that he mistook Reeva for a dangerous intruder.
"He could have gone to the balcony and shouted for help knowing that somebody was there. He could have pressed the alarm system [and] all this would have been prevented," he said. "I feel that there's still a missing link somewhere. I think there's quite a bit more to the whole thing than has been produced so far."
His wife added: "They've missed something, what really happened. Only Oscar knows what really happened."
The couple said that they were shocked when Pistorius was cleared of murder by Judge Thokozile Masipa on 12 September.
"We were shocked, shocked, disappointed. You know, your heart drops. You just want the truth and it's going in the wrong direction, that's how you feel," said June.
She added that they were both "exhausted" and have not had time to grieve. "It is a horrible, horrible thing that we've been through, and it's still going on," she said.
Yet the couple said they feel "no hate" towards Pistorius and actually feel sorry for him. "In seconds his whole life changed, and you don't wish that on anybody, but things did happen, and things happened there that haven't been brought up, I know that," said Barry.
Pistorius is due to return to court on 13 October to find out his sentence.
Oscar Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide - but not of murder
Oscar Pistorius has been found guilty of culpable homicide, after yesterday being cleared of murdering Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year. Reading from her written judgment, Judge Thokozile Masipa told the court that there was not enough evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the athlete was guilty of premeditated murder or murder. He was also found guilty on one firearms charge, but acquitted on two others. Pistorius could face up to 15 years in jail on the culpable homicide charge, but he will not be sentenced until next month.
Here is what has been heard so far:
Noon: Judge Masipa returns to give her ruling on Pistorius's bail application. She recaps on the arguments made by defence lawyer Barry Roux and prosecutor Gerrie Nel. The judge says that if the prosecution was so concerned that Pistorius had sold his properties, then it would have investigated the matter long ago and brought it to the court's attention. She has therefore granted the defence's bail application. Masipa agrees to adjourn until 13 October.
10.20am: Defence lawyer Barry Roux and prosecutor Gerrie Nel are putting forward their arguments for whether or not Pistorius should be given bail. Roux says his client's existing bail agreement should be valid until the sentence is imposed. The athlete has complied with all his bail conditions and detaining him would make it difficult for the defence team to prepare its submissions for sentencing, he says.
Nel points out that Pistorius has now been convicted of causing "the death of an innocent woman". He suggests that "lengthy imprisonment" is probable and the athlete now knows for a fact that he has been convicted. The prosecutor says Pistorius has sold his house and, although he has no evidence to prove it, he can "draw an inference" that Pistorius sold it so he did not have to stay in South Africa. Nel also mentions the incident at a nightclub in which Pistorius was allegedly involved and says that Pistorius is a suicide risk.
Roux says Pistorius's appearance at the nightclub was a mistake and that his client now accepts he cannot go to such public places. He says that the athlete sold his property to pay for legal costs and is not planning to go abroad. In a controversial move, the lawyer reads out the address of Pistorius's Uncle Arnold, with whom the athlete has been staying for 18 months.
Judge Masipa adjourns the court to consider her decision, with Pistorius taken to the cells for the duration of the break.
9.20am: Masipa recaps the four counts against Pistorius and her findings. She repeats again that the state did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Pistorius was guilty of premeditated murder or murder. Today, she is giving a detailed legal explanation of why she acquitted Pistorius of murder dolus eventualis – a decision which received some criticism from legal experts yesterday. Finally, Masipa asks Pistorius to stand and announces:
- Count one: not guilty of murdering Reeva Steenkamp, but guilty of culpable homicide
- Count two: not guilty of firearms charge relating to sunroof incident
- Count three: guilty of negligence in regards to firearms charge relating to Tashas restaurant
- Count four: not guilty of firearms charge relating to possession of illegal ammunition
Masipa then moves straight onto the issue of whether or not witness Darren Fresco should receive indemnity from prosecution for his evidence. Despite earlier describing some of his testimony as "dishonest", she allows him indemnity.
9.10am: Pistorius's final firearms charge is the illegal possession of .38 ammunition in his Pretoria home. The athlete did not have a gun that takes that ammunition, but neither did he have a permit to be in possession of the ammunition. Pistorius told the court the bullets belonged to his father and he had them for safe-keeping, although his estranged father declined to sign an affidavit to confirm that the ammunition was his own. Masipa says the accused must have the "necessary mental intention to possess a firearm or ammunition before there can be a conviction". The state failed to prove that Pistorius had the necessary mental intention to possess the ammunition, she says. Therefore, he cannot be found guilty on this count.
9am: The second firearms charge faced by Pistorius relates to an incident in January, before Steenkamp's death, when a Glock pistol went off while in his possession in a Johannesburg restaurant called Tashas. Masipa says Pistorius may not have intended to fire the gun, but this "does not absolve" him from the crime of negligence. Masipa says she accepts in full the evidence of state witness Kevin Lerena. Pistorius was trained in firearms, she says. "He should not have asked for a firearm in a restaurant full of patrons." The state has proved beyond reasonable doubt that he is guilty on this count, says the judge.
8.50am: Masipa begins with Pistorius's two charges of discharging firearms in public. The athlete is accused of firing a gun out of an open car sunroof in September 2012 while in the car with his girlfriend at the time, Samantha Taylor, and his friend Darren Fresco. Fresco was "not an impressive witness at all", in fact he was proved to be a "dishonest witness", says the judge. For example, Fresco claimed Pistorius had driven at 260km an hour, but it later emerged that it was Fresco driving at the time. Masipa says this does not always mean a witness's whole evidence is tainted, but caution is warranted. The relationship between Taylor and Pistorius did not "end amicably" and it was clear that she had been "hurt". Masipa says this does not necessarily mean she was out to implicate the accused, but again her evidence must be taken with "a certain degree of caution". As Pistorius denied the incident, it is up to the prosecution to prove that it happened. Masipa announces that the state has failed to establish that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt on this count and therefore has to be acquitted on one charge of discharging firearms in public.
Oscar Pistorius murder verdict as it happened – day one
1.15pm: Judge Masipa is back in court after a lunch break and is looking at the charge of culpable homicide. The question is whether or not Pistorius acted as a "reasonable" person would in the same situation. In the "reasonableness" test, the court must take into account the accused's background, level of education and gender. The defence has argued that Pistorius's disability should be taken into account when judging if he acted "reasonably"
Masipa says there were other paths that Pistorius could have taken rather than reaching for his firearm, such as calling security or the police, or screaming from his balcony for help. Masipa agrees that Pistorius's conduct might be better understood by looking at his background, but she says this serves only as an explanation not an excuse. Many people in South Africa have been victims of violent crime, she says, but they have not resorted to "sleeping with firearms under their pillows".
The judge says she is "not persuaded" that a reasonable person with the accused's disabilities would have fired four shots into that small toilet cubicle and says they would have foreseen that whoever was behind the door might have been struck by a bullet and die. Pistorius knew there was a person behind the door, he chose to use a firearm and was competent in the use of firearms as he had undergone some training, she says. The judge says it is her view that Pistorius acted "too hastily" and used "excessive force". It is clear that Pistorius was negligent, she says.
11.30am: Masipa looks at whether Pistorius could have subjectively foreseen that Steenkamp was behind the closed door when he fired the shots. She says the evidence does not support the state's contention that he did. From the onset, the accused believed at the time that the deceased was in the bedroom, she says. Masipa notes that he immediately told the first witnesses at the crime scene that he had thought Steenkamp was an intruder and was genuinely distraught. She adds that Pistorius "did not subjectively foresee this as a possibility that he would kill the person behind the door, let alone the deceased". Judge Masipa says Pistorius cannot be found guilty of murder dolus eventualis, a legal term for the accused being aware of the outcome of his or her action.
11.15am: Masipa says the essential question is whether or not there is reasonable doubt that Pistorius intended to kill on 14 February 2013. On the count of premeditated murder, the judge says the evidence is "purely circumstantial" and that the state has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Pistorius is guilty of premeditated murder.
Masipa says Pistorius was a "very poor witness". He was composed and logical in evidence in chief, but lost his composure under cross-examination. She says it does not make sense to argue this was because he was suffering from emotional distress because his initial evidence could not be faulted. He was an "evasive witness", she says, and appeared to be more worried about the impact of his answers than the answers themselves. However, she says, untruthfulness in a testimony does not necessarily prove guilt.
Masipa says Steenkamp was killed under "peculiar" circumstances and some aspects "do not make sense". Why did Pistorius not ascertain if Steenkamp had heard the perceived burglar or his own calls for her to phone the police, asks Masipa. She points out that Steenkamp had her phone with her in the toilet, yet never called the police.
10.50am: Judge Masipa says that "without a doubt" the court is "dealing with a plethora of defences". First, she says, is whether Pistorius lacked criminal capacity at the time he killed the deceased. The judge points to his mental health evaluation which found that he "did not suffer from a mental illness or defect that would have rendered him criminally not responsible for the offence charged". She disagrees with the defence's claim that a reflex reaction is similar to lacking capacity. Pistorius, by his own admission, decided to arm himself and go to the bathroom, she says. This was a "conscious" decision and inconsistent with the lack of criminal capacity defence. Masipa says she is satisfied that the accused could distinguish between right and wrong and act in accordance with that distinction at the time of the killing.
Masipa turns to the defence of putative self-defence, where the accused uses reasonable means to defend himself against a genuinely held fear of attack. She notes that Pistorius's testimony was "contradictory". Masipa also points out that Pistorius is not unique in being more vulnerable to danger. She says it would not be reasonable to say that women, children and others with limited mobility should arm themselves.
10.00am: Masipa says the next question is: can the version of the accused be "reasonably, possibly true"? She dismisses some of the arguments put forward by the state. First, she rejects the prosecution's argument that Steenkamp would have simply taken her phone to the toilet in the night. Masipa says Steenkamp might have done so for a number of reasons.
The judge also dismisses both the loving and angry WhatsApp messages between Pistorius and Steenkamp in the lead up to her death. Human beings are "fickle", she says, and normal relationships are "dynamic and unpredictable" sometimes. The court has therefore refrained from making inferences one way or another from any of the messages.
The court has also decided not to make any inferences from the fact that Steenkamp may have had food in her stomach at the time of her death. Masipa says that even the experts note that the evidence is inconclusive so it is not certain that Steenkamp ate two hours before her death, as the prosecution claimed. The state claimed that Steenkamp went down to eat amid an argument with Pistorius overheard by neighbour Estelle van der Merwe. Masipa says that Van der Merwe did not know where the argument came from or even what language it was in, so there was no proof that this was linked to the events in Pistorius's home.
Masipa turns to the testimony of Pistorius and says it is not quite clear whether he intended to shoot or not. She reads several quotes in which the athlete describes the exact moments that he fired the gun. Over the course of the trial, he has claimed it was "an accident", that he "never intended to kill anyone" and that he "did not have time to think before firing". However, Masipa says part of the evidence is "inconsistent with someone who shot without thinking". Pistorius released the safety mechanism on the gun and shot into the door, although told the court that if he wanted to shoot someone he would have "aimed" higher. At one point in the trial, Pistorius said: "The accident was that I discharged my firearm in the belief an intruder was coming out to attack me."
9.45am: The judge says she accepts the defence's timeline of events, in which they argue the shots were fired at around 3.12am. The screams, heard in the following minutes, were then likely to be Pistorius rather than Steenkamp. The noises heard at 3.17am were then likely to be the sound of Pistorius knocking down the door with a cricket bat rather than gunshots. Judge Masipa uses the timeline of objective facts to test witness statements. She shows that some witnesses got their times wrong or mistakenly believed the cricket bat to be gunshots.
9.30am: Judge Masipa suggests that the screams neighbours believed came from a woman, could have in fact come from Pistorius. She notes that none of the witnesses – even Pistorius's former girlfriend Samantha Taylor – had heard the athlete scream when faced with a life-threatening situation. The shots were fired in quick succession and Steenkamp probably did not breathe for more than a few seconds after being shot in the head, suggesting that Steenkamp was not the one screaming, she says.
The judge discusses the reliability of witness statements, noting that many "got their facts wrong" with some neighbours "genuinely mistaken" in what they heard. She says that the evidence of Michelle Burger and her husband was "unreliable", but says they were not dishonest. Other witnesses were "disadvantaged" by the huge media attention as they had researched the case, she says. The "probability" is that some witnesses failed to separate what they knew personally, what they had heard from other people and what they had gathered from the media, she says.
"Human beings are fallible and depend on memories which fail over time," says Masipa. But she says that the court is in the "fortunate position" that it can rely on evidence from technology, such as phone records, which is more reliable than human perception and memory. The judge says it would be unwise to rely on any evidence by any of the witnesses without testing them against the objective facts.
9.00am: Judge Thokozile Masipa outlines the charges against Pistorius. He is accused of murdering Steenkamp, as well as two counts of discharging firearms in public and one count of illegal possession of ammunition. She then outlines the defence, which is that the athlete denies shooting Steenkamp intentionally and believed there was an intruder in his bathroom who posed a threat to him and the deceased.
Masipa states the facts related to the murder charge on which both sides agree. On 14 February 2013, shortly after 3am, screams were heard from the accused's house. While on stumps, Pistorius fired four shots into the toilet door. The deceased was inside the toilet, which was locked from the inside. Three of the four struck the deceased. She sustained wounds on her side, arm, head and web of her fingers. Steenkamp died of multiple gunshot wounds. Soon after the shots were fired, the accused called for help and used a cricket bat to break down the door. He took Steenkamp downstairs, was very emotional and was seen trying to resuscitate the deceased.
The judge notes that it would be "fruitless" to rehash all the detailed evidence, which goes into "thousands of pages", but says it had all been taken into consideration. She adds that some issues had taken up a lot of the court's time – which was correct to do so – but which now "pale into insignificance" in the context of all the evidence as a whole. This included whether or not police contaminated the scene, the length of an extension cord that went missing from the crime scene and the authenticity of items in various police exhibits.
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