From the news desk

Fans shower Pistorius with support before day in court

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“A jail sentence is the last thing you deserve and I hope no one gets away with the terrible treatment they have subjected you to.”

This message was posted by a fan identified only as Sara on the blog, Support for Oscar, where messages of support have streamed in on the eve of his brief appearance in the high court in Pretoria on Monday.

Pistorius will only face sentencing on a charge of murder in June, but has to briefly appear in court as his case was earlier postponed to April 18.

The National Prosecuting Authority confirmed last month that sentencing procedures would now take place over four days – from June 13 to 17.

It is understood that the matter cannot proceed on Monday as the expert reports are not yet ready to be presented to court.

Whether Judge Thokozile Masipa, who handled the trial, or another judge, will conduct the postponement is unclear. Proceedings are expected to last only a few minutes.

After Judge Masipa convicted the Paralympian of culpable homicide, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) overturned her decision to a verdict of murder at the end of last year.

But the SCA judges, in overturning her ruling, made it clear that Judge Masipa conducted herself with dignity and was professional during the trial and that she simply made an error in law when she convicted him of culpable homicide.

As Monday’s proceedings will be brief, the parents of murdered Reeva Steenkamp are not expected in court.

The State and the defence will inform the court as to how far their reports are, as these will form a vital part of the proceedings.

Evidence in mitigation and aggravation of sentence which will include a series of expert reports will be presented to court in June.

It is not yet known when Judge Masipa will sentence Pistorius.

In terms of the law, the disgraced athlete will face a minimum sentence of 15 years, but the judge can deviate from that if she found compelling mitigating or aggravating circumstances.

It is, however, expected that Pistorius will get less than 15 years, as the SCA said the trial court should consider the year that he had already spent in jail before being released under house arrest for the initial five-year conviction of culpable homicide.

Meanwhile, on the blog and on Twitter, Pistorius fans have been showing their support for their hero, with pictures of the athlete surrounded by hearts and flowers. Support poured in from all over the world, some calling on him to “stay strong”.

“I am still here for you and I am going nowhere. When all this madness is over, I shall still be here. God Bless you champ,” a blogger named Angela posted from the UK.

[Source: Pretoria News]
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