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Ubuntu, or 10 years for Oscar

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Oscar Pistorius should get either 10 years in jail or house arrest and community service, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Friday.

Presenting closing arguments for sentencing, Barry Roux, for the paralympic athlete, called for the principles of ubuntu and restorative justice to be applied to the case.

“Serious regard should be given to a community-based sentence, to restorative justice,” he told the court.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel, on the other hand, said the negligence Pistorius had been found guilty of, and which led to his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp’s death, was so serious that only a jail sentence would suffice.

“The only, but only reasonable sentence would be long-term incarceration,” he said.

Pistorius will hear his sentence on Tuesday at 9.30am.

“I want to thank both counsel for your assistance and your co-operation in this matter. I’m very impressed that the counsel conducted themselves in the way they did,” Judge Thokozile Masipa said when sentencing procedures concluded.

Roux said society had become used to the idea that prison was the punishment of choice. Instead he called for punishment that addressed the interests of all parties based on the principle of ubuntu.

Pleading for mercy for Pistorius, Roux said his client had lost everything.

“He’s lost his immovable property. He’s lost his moveable property. He’s lost his sponsors. It’s a person that’s down and out. He’s broke,” Roux said.

“He has nothing. He hasn’t even money to pay for legal expenses.”

Pistorius wiped tears from his eyes and sobbed quietly as Roux spoke.

Roux said Pistorius became the victim of negative media reports.

“How he crushed her head with a cricket bat, how he murdered her because he was taking steroids, how he took acting lessons… that is what he was subjected to,” Roux said.

Roux argued that Pistorius was not a cold-blooded murderer, but a vulnerable person who used excessive force.

Nel said Pistorius should not use his disability to avoid jail.

“I find it disturbing that a man with a disability, that competed with able-bodied athletes would now shamelessly use this as an argument,” Nel said.

“When it suits us it’s a handicap.”

Nel argued that by giving the Steenkamps R6000 a month for 18 months and offering them another R375,000, Pistorius had tried to influence his sentence.

He said he was saddened when he heard about payments to the Steenkamps and questioned why the offer was made between judgment and sentencing proceedings.

“The offer is nothing but an attempt to influence sentence,” Nel said.

“If I heard that after this case was finalised Mr Pistorius donated money… it would be different. But no.”

Roux said the money was a “genuine positive effort” by Pistorius to do something for the good of the community.

The family had said they would repay the R6000-a-month payments.

Before the case was adjourned Nel mentioned that in Pistorius’s own shower there were no rails.

Social worker and probation officer Annette Vergeer, testifying for the defence this week, said one of the reasons prisons did not cater for a person with Pistorius’s disability was because the showers had no hand rails.

Roux pointed out that the athlete had a bench in the shower of the Pretoria townhouse where Steenkamp was killed.

Nel said: “If one can get by with a little bench, one can get a bench in the prison shower. He can take a bench into any prison.”

On September 12, Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide for the Valentine’s Day 2013 shooting of his girlfriend Steenkamp. The court found him not guilty of murdering her.

Pistorius shot Steenkamp through the locked door of his toilet, claiming he thought she was an intruder about to emerge and attack him. She was hit in the hip, arm, and head.

Pistorius was found guilty of firing a pistol under a table at Tasha’s restaurant in Johannesburg in January 2013.

He was found not guilty of shooting through the open sunroof of a car in Modderfontein on September 30, 2012, and of illegal possession of ammunition. SAPA


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