Paralympian Oscar Pistorius will spend another night wondering about his fate as judgment in his murder trial was adjourned early on Thursday.
Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned proceedings in the High Court in Pretoria before dealing with the matter of whether Pistorius was guilty of culpable homicide.
This was after she had found that he could not be guilty of murder.
However, Masipa found that Pistorius was negligent when he fired four shots into a toilet cubicle that killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
“I am of the view that the accused acted too hastily and used excessive force. In the circumstances it is clear that his conduct was negligent.”
Pistorius said he thought an intruder was behind the door of the toilet in his Pretoria home when he shot through it. He fired four times killing Steenkamp on February 14, 2013.
The State argued the murder was premeditated.
Pistorius, 27, pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, and to three firearm-related charges.
Judgment would continue on Friday.
Following the adjournment Pistorius remained in the dock while his sister Aimee sat on his lap holding his head.
His lawyer Barry Roux left the court smiling, as did his uncle Arnold.
His brother, Carl Pistorius, was pushed out of court in a wheelchair. Both of his legs were in casts after he was involved in a near fatal accident last month.
A wall of photographers and cameramen lined Pistorious’s route from courtroom GD to the white 4×4 parked outside the court building.
Pistorius was escorted out of the court room by police as he was pursued by the media.
People standing outside the building cheered and screamed as he was rushed out to his car.
Throughout the day the African National Congress Women’s League sang outside the court in support of the Steenkamp family.
“Pantsi [Down] ngo Oscar, pantsi [down]! Rot in jail, Oscar, rot in jail!”, they chanted.
There were also people in support of Pistorius outside the court.
“He didn’t do it on purpose,” student Anzer Rhema, 20 said outside the court.
“If I was the judge I would just forgive the person. Let him go. South Africans should forgive him for what happened,” she said.
Before judgment started people were predicting a guilty verdict for the athlete, however, Masipa surprised them when she acquitted him of murder.
“The accused therefore cannot be found guilty of murder dolus eventualis [legal intent]… that however is not the end of the matter as culpable homicide is a competent verdict,” she said earlier, just before adjourning for an early lunch.
Masipa found that the evidence with regard to the charge was “purely circumstantial”.
While Masipa read through her judgment, systematically going through the sequence of events, Pistorius sat in the dock weeping, shaking and clenching his jaw.
When she found he could not be found guilty of murder Pistorius heaved a sigh of relief.
A number of Pistorius family members were in court, including his father Henke Pistorius.
Steenkamp’s parents, Barry and June, as well as her cousin Kim Martins attended the judgment.
Steenkamp’s friends the Myers family, witness Darren Fresco and former soccer player Marc Batchelor were also in court.
Earlier, Masipa said Pistorius was a “very poor witness” and contradicted himself on the stand.
She described him as an evasive witness and said he failed to listen to questions, thinking of the impact of his answers.
Masipa rejected Pistorius’s defence that this was because he was under emotional stress, traumatised, and medicated. SAPA