Thursday, November 30, 2017 at 7:42 AM

Justice Delayed but Not Denied for Oscar Pistorius

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Oscar Pistorius became as famous after he murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp as O.J. Simpson was when he murdered his wife Nicole Brown.

More to the point, his was as much the trial of the century in South Africa as O.J.s was in America. He wasn’t acquitted like O.J. But his conviction and sentence incited similar outrage.

I objected to the judge reducing the murder charge against Pistorius to manslaughter. And, after she found him guilty of that lesser charge, I objected to her sentencing him to only five years.

Unsurprisingly, the prosecutor appealed, and the appellate court duly “scaled up” his conviction to murder. I hailed that ruling in “Oscar Pistorius Guilty of Murder…Duh,” December 7, 2015.


It took fourteen years for justice to finally catch up with O.J. … But it has only taken fourteen months for justice to finally catch up with Oscar.

When the justices of South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal vacated Masipa’s manslaughter verdict last week, they were finally making him pay for murdering his girlfriend in 2013. …

Only six weeks ago, Pistorius won parole from the five-year sentence Masipa imposed for manslaughter. But he now faces a minimum of 15 years.


A sound judge would have seized this judicial slap on the wrist to scale up her sentence commensurate with murder. Masipa did not. Instead, she willfully added just one year to her original sentence.

This sentence incited the prosecutor to appeal yet again, which predictably led to this:

South Africa’s Supreme Court more than doubled Oscar Pistorius’ murder sentence on Friday after the state argued the original jail term of six years for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was ‘shockingly lenient’.

The gold medal-winning athlete, known as the ‘Blade Runner’ for his carbon-fiber prosthetics, was not in court to hear the new sentence of 13 years and five months handed down.

Steenkamp’s family were also absent but welcomed the sentence — the minimum 15 years prescribed for murder, minus the time Pistorius has already served — and said it showed justice could prevail in South Africa.

(Reuters, November 24, 2017)

This is as much a slap in the face for Judge Masipa as it is a punch in the gut for Pistorius. And both are equally warranted.

Justice delayed but not denied for O.J. was getting a 33-year sentence for petty theft in Las Vegas. This was clearly intended to compensate for the double murders he committed in Los Angeles. For Pistorius, it is having his sentence more than doubled. And this is clearly intended to compensate for the relative slap on the wrist Masipa gave him.

The latter is not quite as poetic. But it has the same whiff of comeuppance for a celebrated man who seemed to have gotten away with murder.

Steenkamp’s parents, Barry and June, were ’emotional’ as they watched Seriti deliver the verdict live on television at their home, family lawyer Tania Koen said.

‘They feel there has been justice for Reeva. She can now rest in peace,’ Koen told the Associated Press.

(Associated Press, November 24, 2017)

Related commentaries:
Oscar Pistorius

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