While the world is gearing up for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August, jail is looming large for former hero Oscar Pistorius.
If the State had its way, Oscar would long be behind bars by now, and for a very long time.
The athlete’s legal team is expected to pull out all the stops this week to try to convince Judge Thokozile Masipa not to sentence Pistorius to the prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years.
Monday will be the first time Judge Masipa comes face to face with Oscar since sending him to jail for culpable homicide.
The head of his legal team, Barry Roux SC, will on Monday call witnesses and present expert reports to the high court in Pretoria in a bid to prove there are compelling and substantial circumstances warranting a lesser sentence than the mandatory 15 years.
Legal expert Francois Botes said if the judge found mitigating factors in favour of Oscar, she could mete out any sentence she deemed appropriate, even a suspended sentence.
But chances are slim that the Blade Runner would avoid a jail sentence, Botes said. Even if the judge was sympathetic towards him, chances were good that the State could appeal what they deem to be an inappropriate sentence.
Oscar’s options are running out and the only lifeline left to him is to appeal against what he may perceive as too harsh a sentence.
This will be the second time Oscar faces sentencing following the events of Valentine’s Day 2013 when he fired four shots into the toilet door of his luxury home in a security estate east of Pretoria.
Behind the door was his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. She died in Oscar’s arms, as he frantically carried her down the staircase of his home to summons help.
Judge Masipa accepted Pistorius’s version that he never meant to kill her, but had mistaken her for an intruder. She convicted him of culpable homicide – a negligent act, and sentenced him to a five-year jail term, of which he only had to serve 10 months behind bars.
But prosecutor Gerrie Nel maintained the judge had wrongly applied the law, and that it was murder.
This is due to be a highly emotional and tough week for Oscar as he will fight for the shortest possible sentence under the circumstances.
The matter was set down for the entire week – with the court perhaps even sitting on Thursday’s public holiday.
It is not yet known whether he will hear his fate this week.
Legal experts say chances are good that Judge Masipa will want to take some time to prepare her judgment on sentencing, as the world’s eyes will again be on her.