South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to six years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013. It comes after his initial five-year conviction for manslaughter was changed to murder last December on appeal. He was taken immediately to jail. Both the prosecution and defence can appeal, but his lawyers say they will not. Pistorius, 29, shot Reeva Steenkamp four times through a locked toilet door in February 2013. He admitted shooting her, but said he had mistaken Ms Steenkamp for an intruder and acted out of fear. In an hour-long session, Judge Thokozile Masipa said mitigating circumstances, such as rehabilitation and remorse, outweighed aggravating factors for deviating from the prescribed 15-year sentence.
Many have expressed shock at Pistorius’s sentence, which is much less than the prescribed minimum for murder. South Africans have taken to social media to express their unhappiness, with some describing the prison term as an insult. Outside court, legal experts said the sentence was too little. “The judge was sympathetic and empathetic to Pistorius. It was clear in the tone of her entire judgement,” one said. But Judge Masipa said she had carefully considered the circumstances around Reeva Steenkamp’s death and her sentence needed to be fair to both Pistorius and the family of the deceased. South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in the world, and some say a short sentence will send the wrong message to would-be-offenders.