Oscar Pistorius returns to court for murder sentencing

Oscar Pistorius

Sentencing proceedings for former paralympian and convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius are expected to start in the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa on Monday.

Sentencing procedures have been set down for a week before Judge Thokozile Masipa, who originally sentenced Pistorius in October 2014.

The process would be similar to a trial, and the defence and State would be able to call witnesses to argue in aggravation and mitigation of sentencing, and could then cross-examine them, lawyer William Booth said.

The 29-year-old shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, four times in the early hours of February 14, 2013 through the locked door of the toilet in his Silver Woods Country Estate home.

He claimed he thought there was an intruder behind the door and that Reeva was still in bed.

In October 2014, Masipa sentenced him to five years behind bars after finding him guilty of culpable homicide.

The National Prosecuting Authority approached the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) to argue that he should have been found guilty of murder.

Pistorius was released on October 19 last year, to serve out the rest of his sentence under correctional supervision at his uncle Arnold’s house. He had spent nearly a year in Kgosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria.

On December 3 last year, the SCA overturned his culpable homicide conviction, and replaced it with the more serious one of murder. It sent the matter back to the high court to determine an appropriate sentence.

Steenkamp’s father, Barry, who has been absent throughout the case due to poor health, may also appear in court.

Experts say a custodial sentence seems almost unavoidable but factors such as his mental fragility, disability and good behaviour might lead to a reduced jail term.

Pistorius will not be able to appeal, as a top court ruled in March that he had exhausted all his legal options.

The SCA found Masipa committed an error in law by incorrectly applying the principles of dolus eventualis when she found him guilty of culpable homicide.

Pistorius made history by becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics, in London in 2012.

He competed in the 400m, wearing carbon-fibre blades to run against able-bodied athletes.