The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) on Thursday found that Oscar Pistorius was guilty of murdering Reeva Steenkamp.
Judge Eric Leach announced that the state’s appeal in the Oscar Pistorius case was successful.
The court found in favour of the state in two of the three questions of law reserved by the high court to be determined by the SCA.
It found that the principles of dolus eventualis were incorrectly applied by the high court.
Pistorius, 29, shot and killed his girlfriend Steenkamp, who was 29, through a locked door in his Pretoria home on February 14 2013.
He claimed he fired the four fatal shots through the door of the toilet in the bathroom adjoining his bedroom believing that there was an intruder inside and that his life and that of Steenkamp were in danger.
The appeal court also found that the high court failed to take into account all the evidence. It said the failure to take into account the evidence of police ballistics expert Major Chris Mangena must be regarded as an error of law.
June Steenkamp, Reeva’s mother, sat in the front bench of the public gallery to hear the outcome. She was hugged by longtime friend Jenny Strydom after the verdict. She smiled as she left the court..
Leach referred the case back to the Pretoria high court for sentence to be considered afresh.
Pistorius was sentenced to a five-year prison term in October last year but was released into correctional supervision this year after spending close to one year in prison.
He could now face 15 years in prison. This is the prescribed minimum sentence for murder but a lesser sentence can be imposed if there are compelling circumstances to do so.
Leach said that he found Judge Thokozile Masipa’s thinking confusing.
“Even on the finding that he did not know it was Steenkamp behind the toilet door‚ it did not matter. Even if he was under the impression that Reeva was in bed‚ he had necessary intent to bring [about] the demise of the person behind the door‚” said Leach.
Leach said that in light of the improbabilities in Pistorius’ testimony, and the three different versions he provided, one can’t really say why he fired.
February 14: South African police arrest Pistorius, a Paralympic and Olympic sprinter nicknamed the “Blade Runner”, for killing model Reeva Steenkamp, 29, who was shot four times with one of the guns at his Pretoria house.
February 15: Pistorius bursts into tears as he is charged, denying murder “in the strongest terms”.
February 19: Pistorius claims in an affidavit that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder and feared that someone had crept into his home. He fired through a locked bathroom door in what prosecutors term a “premeditated” murder.
February 20: Police searching Pistorius’s home find testosterone and needles in a dresser in his bedroom. Testosterone is on the list of substances banned by the International Olympic Committee. Pistorius’s lawyers poke holes in the prosecution’s murder case, challenging flawed police work.
February 22: Pistorius is granted bail.
March 11: Pistorius is in deep mourning, but is “certainly not suicidal,” his family says.
February 14: A year after the shooting, Pistorius says he is still consumed with “sorrow” in an online message.
February 25: A judge rules that most of his trial can be broadcast live, but not his testimony.
March 3: The trial opens in Pretoria before an army of journalists from around the world, with the testimony of a neighbour who tells the court she heard “terrible screams” from a woman.
March 13: Pistorius vomits when a picture of the dead model’s body is flashed on the court’s television screens.
April 7-15: Pistorius takes the witness stand and begins with a tearful apology to Steenkamp’s family. This is followed by five days of often intense cross-examination, marked by bouts of tears and breaks in the session. Pistorius steadfastly denies any intention to kill Steenkamp.
June 30: After a six-week break, a panel of three psychiatrists and a psychologist conclude that Pistorius does not suffer from mental illness.
September 12: Pistorius is found guilty of culpable homicide or manslaughter, but is initially cleared of murder.
October 21: Judge Thokozile Masipa sentences Pistorius to a maximum of five years in jail. The athlete is immediately taken to Pretoria prison.
November 4: Prosecutors describe the sentence as “shockingly light and inappropriate” in appeal papers.
December 10: The judge grants prosecutors leave to appeal against the conviction for culpable homicide rather than murder.
October 19: Pistorius is allowed out of prison — just one year into his five-year jail term — to spend the remainder of his sentence under house arrest at his uncle’s mansion in Pretoria. He is let out a day ahead of his release date in an apparent bid to avoid media attention.
November 3: The Supreme Court of Appeal reserves judgement on state prosecutors’ attempt to have him convicted for murder.
November 14: Pistorius reports for his first day of community service in Pretoria.
Here is a snapshot of events that began more than two years ago with the shooting on Valentine’s Day.Earlier reports that the appeal had been dismissed with costs had been in error – that ruling related to another case.