Oscar Pistorius’ legal team have quite a few hurdles to jump in his final legal bid to appeal his 13-year prison sentence for murder.
There are no other legal avenues for Pistorius to use, except a presidential pardon which is not on the cards.
Pistorius has approached the Constitutional Court to grant him leave to appeal the sentence, recently lengthened by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).
The “Blade Runner” Paralympian was initially found guilty of culpable homicide by Judge Thokozile Masipa in the High Court in Pretoria in 2013, but that was set aside by the SCA, which convicted him of murder for the 2013 shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
According to legal analysis, there are a number of valid reasons in terms of the SCA judgment that his team would have to prove warrants an appeal.
“I think they will struggle. But then what has he got to lose? It’s a no-win situation. This is the end of the road. But the odds are stacked against him,” criminal law expert attorney Cliff Alexander said.
“The Constitutional Court is going to have to revisit what the high court found and revisit what the appellate justices found. It was a unanimous decision in the SCA – it wasn’t a split decision. There wasn’t a majority and a minority.”
He further questioned what the constitutional issue being raised was in order to fit the jurisdiction of the court he intends appealing in. According to court papers, Pistorius’ legal team argues that the SCA acted beyond its scope and powers in terms of legislation.
“What is the constitutional aspect here?”
Alexander asked, making clear that this attempt is only an application for leave to appeal and not an automatic right to. “They have to first convince the Constitutional Court that they have a right to be heard.
There are three aspects they have to prove. “They have to prove there was an irregularity that results in a failure of justice.
The Supreme Court of Appeal must have misdirected itself to such an extent that their decision on sentence is vitiated.
And they must say that the sentence is so disproportionate or shocking that no reasonable court could have imposed it. “But the minimum sentence legislation for murder is 15 years.”