“Mr Pistorius, please rise,” Masipa said to the paralympian. Pistorius stood with his hands clasped as the judge handed him a five year sentence.
Pisctorius was convicted of culpable homicide for the 2013 Valentine’s Day killing of model and law graduate, girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. His defence, while on trial for murder, was he had mistaken her for an intruder.
To the right of him sat Barry and June Steenkamp, Reeva’s elderly parents.
Noting defence advocate Barry Roux’s call for a suspended sentence last week, Masipa said she did not feel it would be appropriate, but the sentence should not be too heavy, nor too light.
“It is impossible to deal with the interests of society without reference to the deceased,” Masipa said. “The loss of life cannot be reversed and hopefully the sentence will provide the family with some relief so they can move on.”
Masipa also noted that the interest of society demands those who commit crimes be punished severely: “Society cannot always get what it wants,” Msipa said.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel had initially asked for 10 years in jail.
Masipa also rejected a suggested sentence of house arrest and community for Pistorius.
“The sentence suggested by Mrs Vergeer and Mr Maringa would not be appropriate,” Masipa read.
Parole officers Annette Vergeer and Joel Maringa, testifying for the defence, had suggested three years of correctional supervision and 16 hours of community service a month for Pistorius.
In contrast Masipa said the testimony of acting commissioner of the Correctional Services Zach Modise a “true and reliable” witness who was not afraid to answer honestly.
The suspended sentence refers to the firing of a pistol under a table at Tasha’s restaurant in Johannesburg in January 2013.
Pistorius was found not guilty on two firearms-related charges — illegal possession of ammunition, and shooting through the open sunroof of a car with his 9mm pistol while driving with friends in Modderfontein on September 30, 2012.
The sentences would run concurrently.
The tension filling courtroom GD prior to Masipa’s sentencing was intense. The gallery, filled almost to capacity, watched intently as Masipa gave her sentence which she said had to be balanced.
“As the court pleases,” said both counsel following the sentence.
Unlike his former glory parading gold medal wins on the athletic track, Pistorius then slowly made his way down the stairs to the holding cell beneath the courtroom.
He took a quick glance at his uncle Arnold Pistorius, who has been at proceedings during the bulk of the trial.
Pistorius’ brother, Carl, in leg braces because of a motor accident, then followed his brother down the stairs minutes later – possibly to comfort his sibling.
The double leg amputee has had international audiences gripped by the trial, many who have likened it to the case of America National Foootball League legend OJ Simpson, who was acquitted for killing his wife Nicole Brown.
Pistorius was transported by police to the Kgosi Mampuru II prison and a large media contingent gathered outside the court cells hoping to photograph Pistorius in handcuffs.
When trying to speak to the Steenkamps after court adjourned, their lawyer Dup de Bruin said: “All we can say is that they are satisfied and they’re glad it’s over.”
The NPA’s Nathi Mncube says it is considering whether to appeal the five year sentence for culpable homicide, or not.
As Pistorius climbed into the police armoured vehicle, onlookers whistled and jeered. When the Nyala drove through the crowd, it was rushed by people who tried to catch a glimpse of the fallen hero before he disappeared to serve his sentence.
– Reporting by Yadhana Jadoo, Amanda Watson & Sapa