Africa

Oscar Pistorius: Minister says verdict is 'disappointing'

Reeva Steenkamp Image copyright EPA
Image caption Ms Motshegka said that she thought it was clear that Reeva Steenkamp was murdered

A South African minister has said the acquittal of athlete Oscar Pistorius of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp is "extremely disappointing".

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga told the BBC she thought the judgement was "based on technicalities, not on facts".

Ms Steenkamp's parents have also said "justice was not served".

Judge Thokozile Masipa found Pistorius guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide.

She said the state had failed to prove Pistorius intended to kill.

Ms Motshekga, who is also president of the governing ANC women's league, said she believed ordinary women in the country will now not feel that the law protects them.

She said that she found Pistorius' version of events implausible and added she hoped the state would appeal against the verdict.

South Africa's prosecuting authority has said it will wait until after sentencing to decide whether to appeal.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Angie Motshekga (second from left) attended a trial hearing in March

Pistorius faces up to 15 years in jail, although the judge could suspend the sentence or only impose a fine.

'Not justice for Reeva'

June and Barry Steenkamp have also told NBC News of their "disbelief" that the court had believed Pistorius's version of events.

Pistorius has been allowed bail ahead of sentencing on 13 October.

Judge Masipa said the athlete had acted "negligently" when he shot his girlfriend through a toilet door, but in the "belief that there was an intruder".

The Paralympic sprinter had strenuously denied murdering Ms Steenkamp after a row on Valentine's Day last year, saying he shot her by mistake.

But in the interview with NBC, June Steenkamp said: "This verdict is not justice for Reeva.

"I just want the truth. He shot through the door and I can't believe that they believe it was an accident."

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Media captionOscar Pistorius was asked to stand as the verdicts were read out by the judge

At the scene: Pumza Fihlani, BBC News

There is a perception here that most crime is committed by poor black people targeting the white middle classes or the wealthy elite.

Cue "white fear" - a phrase used to refer to the rich white "haves" in society who live behind high walls, afraid of the intruder who may come in the night. It was the threat of this intruder that apparently gripped Pistorius with fear on that tragic morning.

In a country where domestic violence is a serious problem, it is not surprising that many hoped this case would be an impetus for change in the laws protecting women.

It was never proven that this was a case of domestic abuse but this did not stop political parties and women's organisations from using Ms Steenkamp as the face of the vulnerable woman - failed by her country and the system.

Outside court, one protester told me: "Women always lose."

Did Reeva Steenkamp get justice?

Was it wise to televise Pistorius trial?


Earlier, Arnold Pistorius, the athlete's uncle, said the family was "deeply grateful" to the judge for finding him not guilty of murder but added that there were "no victors in this," he added.

"Our hearts still go out for her family and friends," he said.

The athlete was also found guilty on a charge of negligently handling a firearm that went off in a restaurant.

He was acquitted of another charge of firing a gun in public, through the sunroof of a car, and of a charge of illegal possession of ammunition in the home where he killed Ms Steenkamp.

Despite the conviction, the International Paralympic Committee said Pistorius would be allowed to compete in future events.

Director of media and communications Craig Spence told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Oscar's done a great deal for the Paralympic movement. He's been an inspiration to millions, but obviously his priority now is to see what the judge decides.

"If he wishes to resume his athletics career then we wouldn't step in his way. We would allow him to compete again in the future."

Verdict What it means Sentence
Premeditated murder - acquitted Intended and planned to unlawfully kill Reeva Steenkamp, or an intruder Mandatory life term - 25 years before parole
Common-law murder - acquitted Unlawfully intended to kill in the heat of the moment but without "malice aforethought". Either: Shot door intending to kill, or knew someone might be killed and still fired gun Minimum of 15 years up to 20 years, at judge's discretion
Culpable homicide (manslaughter) - guilty No intention to kill. Takes into account disability, but actions negligent and not in keeping with a reasonable person Maximum of 15 years, possibly between seven and 10 years
Discharging a firearm in public - guilty of restaurant charge, acquitted over sunroof incident Two counts for allegedly firing a gun through a car sunroof and discharging a gun at a restaurant A fine or up to five years - for each charge
Illegal possession of ammunition - acquitted In possession of .38 bullets for which he has no licence A fine or up to 15 years

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