scar Pistorius’ lawyers have won the latest round of his legal battles.
This week, state advocate Gerrie Nel tried to convince the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) it should read every word of the trial to determine whether Pistorius was guilty of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, rather than of the culpable homicide charge on which he was convicted.
But Pistorius’ advocate, Barry Roux SC, argued that the appeal court judges should read only the “relevant parts” of the court record.
SCA president Judge Lex Mpati agreed with Roux that the 31 volumes should be shortened. After this was done, “a good many” fewer volumes were handed to the court.
Nel now has until August 28 – a week after Pistorius is set to be released on corrective supervision – to file the state’s appeal application papers.
Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison in October last year after he shot and killed Steenkamp through the bathroom door of his luxury home on Valentine’s Day in 2013.
Earlier this year, the parole board decided he could be released on corrective supervision after he had served a sixth of his sentence.
If the SCA rules Pistorius was not merely negligent but that he intended to shoot Steenkamp, his sentence may be adjusted.
Criminal lawyer Jaco du Plessis said it was too bad the SCA did not want to study the complete court record because it would have given them a more complete picture of the events.
“However, in my opinion, this appeal is purely academic. I think the state is wasting its time and the appeal is sour grapes,” he said.
Llewelyn Curlewis, also a criminal lawyer, said a different sentence could be imposed on Pistorius if the state successfully convinced the SCA that it was murder rather than culpable homicide. “In that case, his sentence has to be reconsidered and he could be sent to prison for a much longer time.
“It’s possible that the appeal court judges see things in the court record that Nel, Roux and [ Judge Thokozile] Masipa missed. Whether they read 31 volumes or 20, read they will,” he said.
However, Advocate Johann Engelbrecht SC said a lot of evidence was presented to Masipa that would play no role in the appeal court judges reaching a decision on whether Pistorius was correctly convicted of culpable homicide or not.
Although Nel has continually asked the court to look at “the whole picture”, the rules of the SCA allow the parties to limit the court record to the heart of the matter, he said.
Meanwhile Pistorius’ fans are excited about his impending release.
On a support website for him, Andrea wrote him a poem called Just Run. Noccy Mthembu said she loved Pistorius and wished him the best, and Amanda said it couldn’t rain on him forever, and sooner or later the sun would shine again.
“Enjoy the rainbows in the meantime!” she wrote.