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ConCourt dismisses Pistorius’ bid to appeal murder sentence

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The Constitutional Court of South Africa dismissed an application by convicted murderer Paralympian Oscar Pistorius to appeal his 13 year murder sentence for killing his girlfriend law graduate and model Reeva Steenkamp.

“The Constitutional Court has considered the applications for condonation and leave to appeal. It has concluded that the application for condonation should be granted, but that the application for leave to appeal should be dismissed as it does not engage this Court’s jurisdiction,” the order dated March 28, read.

On November 24, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) sentenced Pistorius to another 13 years and five months in prison for killing Steenkamp, more than doubling the former track star’s sentence for the crime.

The judgment handed down by Judge Legoabe Willie Seriti followed an appeal by the State against an earlier sentence of six years for the murder of Steenkamp, which prosecutors described as “shockingly lenient”.

Pistorius, a gun enthusiast, shot Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013 in the toilet cubicle of his townhouse in a leafy Pretoria suburb. His defence was that he mistook her for an intruder.

The SCA increased the sentence for the former Olympic athlete to 15 years, minus the time he had already served. Seriti said he found it hard to accept that Pistorius was “genuinely remorseful”, on the contrary he seemed to fail to appreciate the gravity of his crime.

The double amputee was initially convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five years by the Pretoria High Court after a highly mediatised trial.

Former State prosecutor Gerrie Nel appealed both the conviction and the sentence, and in 2015 the SCA returned a finding of murder on the principle of dolus eventualis, which refers to the foreseeability of harm by the perpetrator.

The appeal court held that the trial judge had made a number of errors in law and sent the matter back to the Pretoria High Court for sentencing. Judge Thokozile Masipa handed down a new sentence of six years, which the National Prosecuting Authority again took on appeal.

It argued that her starting point should have been 15 years in jail, the minimum sentence in South African law for murder.

On Monday, the African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) welcomed the Constitutional Court decision, saying Pistorius must serve his sentence of 13 years for murdering Steenkamp.

“He has never shown any remorse for killing Reeva and even today he has never explained why he fired the four shots which killed her. The dismissal of leave to appeal by the ConCourt should serve as a lesson to other perpetrators of femicide and women abuse in general who thinks they can just kill/abuse and use their financial muscles to avoid serving jail term,” the ANCWL said in a statement.

“South Africa’s femicide rate is five times more than the global rate. [The] ANCWL calls all South Africans to unite against this sexist violence against women which is perpetuated by patriarchal beliefs that inferiorises women. Perpetrators of this barbaric cruel act see women as objects, instead of equal citizens with equal rights and freedom. The killing of Reeva by Oscar was not just the murder of woman, but the murder of woman because she is a woman.”

The ANCWL said that the fight against gender-based violence and abuse of children in th ecountry should become a societal issue.

[Source: ANA]
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