NPA welcomes Oscar ruling

FILE PICTURE: Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius is seen at the high court in Pretoria during sentencing procedures for shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, Monday, 13 October 2014. Picture: Marco Longari/AFP/Pool

The NPA said on Friday it was happy the court had refused to entertain Oscar Pistorius’s challenge of the State’s appeal against his culpable homicide conviction.

“The court could not go back on its word,” National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesman Velekhaya Mgobhozi told reporters outside the High Court in Johannesburg. Pistorius is serving a five-year sentence after Judge Thokozile Masipa found him guilty of culpable homicide following the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The paralympian shot Steenkamp dead through a locked bathroom door at his home in Pretoria on Valentine’s Day in 2013, claiming he mistook her for an intruder.

The State wants Pistorius’s conviction to be that of murder, with a harsher sentence. In December, Masipa dismissed the State’s application to appeal Pistorius’s sentence, but agreed to grant it leave to appeal his conviction. On Friday, Pistorius’s lawyer Barry Roux requested that Masipa reverse her decision to allow the State to appeal the conviction.

Masipa struck the case from the roll. Ruling on the matter on Friday, she said: “I am not satisfied that this is the correct court to hear this application.

“For one thing, there is really nothing new in the submissions by counsel for the applicant. In my view, to entertain this application will be tantamount to reviewing my own decision.

“And I also think that procedurally it would be wrong to grant or refuse this application.

“Accordingly, the order that I grant in this matter, is to strike off the application,” she said.

The matter will now be heard by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA). Mgobhozi said the State had until May to file the court transcripts to the SCA and would be given a further eight weeks to file its heads of argument. It was not known when the SCA would finally hear the matter, as the registrar still needed to provide a date.

Pistorius, who will be eligible for parole after serving a sixth of his sentence (10 months), has already spent five months behind bars. It is possible the matter will reach the SCA only after August, by which time Pistorius could be out on parole. Mgobhozi said this was out of the State’s control. It would continue with the appeal regardless whether Pistorius was granted parole.

“We’ll still go ahead,” he said.

READ MOREJudge Masipa dismisses Pistorius’ appeal application

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