On Thursday, Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa found Oscar Pistorius, 27, guilty of culpable homicide, “a vindication for the athlete who vehemently protested his innocence during a trial in South Africa that gripped millions around the world,” reports The Guardian.
Last year, on Valentines Day, Pistorius fired four shots through the bathroom door, killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, 29, who was on the other side of the door, locked in the bathroom. “Culpable homicide” is equivalent to a manslaughter charge, meaning that Pistorius will get 15 years max. Max. There is no minimum sentence. It is unlikely Pistorius will serve 15 years. He could be punished with community service and fines. Pistorius got away with murder.
He was not charged with murder because Masipa felt “It cannot be said that he foresaw that the deceased or anyone else would be killed when he fired shots at the toilet door.” Had he been convicted of murder, Pistorius would have faced a minimum of 25 years in jail.
His lawyer, Barry Roux, asked that Pistorius remain free on bail: “I think it is premature to think of a likely sentence in this case,” Mr. Roux said. “There is no reason not to allow him out on bail.”
Culpable homicide means Pistorius was found guilty of negligence rather than intent. Which means that we are to believe Steenkamp’s death was an accident.
Steenkamp’s death was not an accident.
Pistorius claims he fired at the bathroom door, thinking “an intruder” was on the other side, and only realized it was his girlfriend after breaking the door down with a cricket bat.
Pistorius knew she was in there. She was, after all, trying to escape from him. How many women have locked themselves in the bathroom, hiding from their partner? We know what she was doing in there. We know how she got there. We know Pistorius probably chased her in there, that he clearly heard her screaming and crying. That he probably threatened her. Neighbours testified that they heard a woman screaming. She had her cell phone with her. She must have been terrified.
“I’m scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me,” Steenkamp had written in a text message to Pistorius, weeks before her death. He was extremely jealous, from the sounds of it.
“Every 5 seconds I hear how you dated another chick, you really have dated a lot of people, yet you get upset if I mention ONE funny story with a long term boyfriend,” she’d complained. “You… throw tantrums in front of people.”
Pistorius has a history of violence. His ex-girlfriend, Samantha Taylor, said he was “angry and possessive” and that she was afraid he would kill her.
“His jealousy was very tough. He’d phone my mum and dad 10 times a day to find out where I was. In one month I received around 700 calls… It was excessive. If I hadn’t replied to messages within 30 seconds I was doing something wrong.”
“I had to show him photos ‘look at me in my pyjamas – I’m not out! Look I’m watching TV, sitting with my brother.’”
“He didn’t like me dressing up and other men looking at me.”
“It could have been me,” Taylor had said about Reenkamp.
Taylor says Pistorius would bite, pinch, and spit on her. He was mentally, verbally and emotionally abusive, locking her in the house and leaving her all day and night, alone, without food. He had a volatile temper and extreme mood swings. He would drive up to 200 mph with her in the passenger seat in order to instill fear — to “punish” her. At one point Taylor was so scared of him she hid his gun.
I point to all this because any woman who has been with an abusive man will recognize this behaviour instantly. Certainly I do.
Pistorius has taught abusers everywhere that they can come up with the flimsiest of lies and will be believed. Women everywhere have learned that their partners can terrorize and abuse and and even murder them and get away with it.
She must have been terrified.