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Mon May 30 12:47:01 CAT 2016

Oscar's run out of options

Graeme Hosken, Shaun Smillie and Leonie Wagner | 04 March, 2016 00:55
Oscar Pistorius reacting in the dock at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa. File photo.
Image by: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/Files

"Have you no soul?..." That was Oscar Pistorius's reaction to The Times after hearing that he must be sentenced for murder following the Constitutional Court's decision to turn down an appeal against his conviction.

Yesterday the court ruled that Pistorius's appeal had no prospect of success.

It means that next month he faces the prospect of a 15-year prison sentence - which will likely see him return to his cell at the Kgosi Mampuru II prison hospital wing in Pretoria.

It brings to an end any hope he had of returning to the Olympic track, where he made international headlines after competing against able-bodied athletes in the 2012 London Olympics.

In an SMS to The Times last night, Pistorius said: "I have asked you not to call me. Do you not have a soul to respect someone in a time like this that all you can think of is your career?"

Pistorius is out on R10000 bail and is expected to return to the Pretoria High Court on April 18 for sentencing.

He faces 15 years in jail, based on the prescribed minimum sentence for murder for first-time offenders. The court may impose a lesser sentence if it finds the circumstances justify it.

The high court was ordered by the Supreme Court of Appeal to take time already served into account when sentencing. Oscar was in prison for a year before being released on correctional supervision in October last year.

Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day in 2013, claiming he mistook her for an intruder hiding in the toilet of his Pretoria home.

Pistorius has served a sixth - 10 months - of his five-year sentence for culpable homicide.

Advocate Shaun Abrahams, National Director of Public Prosecutions, said: "It is clear that justice has not only been done, but has also been seen to be done. We treat everybody equally and fairly to ensure that nobody is perceived to be above the law."

Reacting to the news, Reeva's father, Barry Steenkamp, reiterated his faith in the South African criminal justice system.

Steenkamp's uncle, Mike, said: "It is a dead end for him, but we are not overjoyed as a family. The Lord knows everything."

Pistorius's spokesman, Anneliese Burgess, said the family had no comment to make.

Piet de Jager, constitutional law expert, said: "He did not even get out of the blocks. He has no remedies left."

Pistorius's former coach, Peet van Zyl, said: "We have already made peace that he will not compete again. We were never looking as far as the 2016 Olympics."

"But he will make a good coach. He has the skills, knowledge and personality," van Zyl said. "This is very sad. We will never see how much further he could have gone."

Hilton Botha, the original investigating officer of the case, said he knew in his heart that Pistorius's appeal was going to be dismissed.

"It is clear that the Constitutional Court has worse things to worry about."

The ruling, though lambasted by Pistorius supporters as "disgusting and shocking" , was welcomed by supporters of Steenkamp.

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