Former Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to six years in prison for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Wednesday in a South African courtroom. Pistorius had been facing a minimum sentence of at least 15 years in prison—South Africa requires a 15-year sentence when it comes to murder, unless a defendant can prove why a sentence should be reduced—but the judge in his case, Thokozile Masipa, told a packed courtroom that she was sentencing Pistorius to six years due to the “substantial and compelling circumstances” surrounding Steenkamp’s murder. Pistorius, who was asked to stand and face Masipa during his sentencing, had very little reaction to the judge's decision:
Pistorius was arrested in February 2013 in South Africa after he shot and killed Steenkamp very early in the morning on Valentine’s Day. Prosecutors argued that Pistorius murdered Steenkamp following an argument and asked Masipa to sentence him to at least 15 years in prison. The defense team countered by asking Masipa to sentence Pistorius—who is a double amputee and made history in 2012 by becoming the first Paralympian to compete in the Olympics—to no jail time and argued for a sentence that included charity work instead. They sought to prove that Pistorius had accidentally killed Steenkamp by shooting her through a bathroom door after mistaking her for an intruder.
This is not the first time Pistorius has been ordered to serve time in prison for his role in Steenkamp’s murder. Back in 2014, he was acquitted of murder by Masipa, but he was sentenced to five years in prison on a manslaughter conviction. He served just 10 months of that sentence before being released. However, prosecutors appealed his murder acquittal to South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal, and he was ordered back to court to face the murder charge again.
A spokeswoman for Pistorius’ family revealed that he will not appeal the six-year prison prison he was given. The prosecution in the case has not yet said whether or not they plan to appeal Masipa’s latest ruling, but according to the Associated Press, many people gathered outside of the courtroom on Wednesday protested the sentence Masipa gave to Pistorius.
"The law didn’t take its course," Dukes Masanabo, a South African sports official, told the AP.
People who responded to the sentence on social media expressed similar sentiments:
Pistorius will be transferred to a prison in South Africa to begin serving his six-year sentence immediately. He will be eligible for parole after three years.