FAMED RUNNER OSCAR PISTORIUS FOUND GUILTY OF MURDER
(P2) Pistorius killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February 2013 after shooting four times through a locked toilet door.
(P4) Pistorius will have to return to court to be re-sentenced for murder.
(P5) Pistorius, a four-time PARALYMPIC gold medalist whose legs were AMPUTATED below the knee as a baby, made history by becoming the first amputee SPRINTER to compete at the Olympics, running on PROSTHETIC “blades”.
(P6) South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal RULED that the lower court did not correctly apply the rule of dolus eventualis – whether Pistorius knew that a death would be a likely result of his actions.
(P7) The minimum sentence for murder in South Africa is 15 years, but judges can apply some DISCRETION.
(P8) South African law does not allow for someone to be placed under house arrest for more than five years, so Pistorius will be going back to prison.
(P11) Reading the UNANIMOUS ruling reached by the five judges, Justice Eric Leach said that having armed himself with a HIGH-CALIBRE WEAPON, Pistorius must have FORESEEN that whoever was behind the door might die, especially given his FIREARMS training.
(P12) “As a matter of COMMON SENSE at the time the fatal shots were fired, the possibility of the death of the person behind the door was clearly an obvious result,” the judge said.
(P13) “And in firing not one but four shots, such a result became even more likely.”
(P16) The judge also rejected the argument that Pistorius had acted in SELF-DEFENCE.
(P17) Under South African law you cannot just shoot – you first need to determine that the threat to your life is real and that there is no other way to ELIMINATE that threat but to shoot.
(P18) Leach said that the athlete’s life was not in danger at the time of the shooting, as Pistorius did not know who was behind the door or if they POSED a threat.
(P20) Pistorius did not attend the HEARING in Bloemfontein.
(P21) But Ms Steenkamp’s mother, June, was present and afterwards she was seen outside the court being EMBRACED by members of the African National Congress Women’s League, who were singing songs of CELEBRATION.
(P22) Many in South Africa were upset by the original ACQUITTAL on murder charges, with women’s rights groups arguing he should have been found guilty of murder.
(P23) Many South Africans have APPLAUDED the court’s decision on social media, saying justice has now been served for Ms Steenkamp.
(P25) Pistorius can challenge the ruling in the constitutional court but only if his lawyers can argue that his constitutional rights have been VIOLATED.
(P26) Legal expert Mannie Witz said that there do not appear to be any GROUNDS for such an appeal.
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- Like the cyclist Lance Armstrong who battled cancer but was found guilty of DOPING to win races, Oscar Pistorius was a deeply INSPIRATIONAL figure to many people. Why do famous athletes’ personal behaviors often disappoint the public?
- Is private handgun ownership legal in your country?
- Do you know anyone who has fought against DISABILITIES as Pistorius has?
- DOMESTIC VIOLENCE against women has been an ONGOING problem in South Africa. How do you think women should protect themselves against violence?
EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:
What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.
- Appeals court
- House arrest
- Going forward
- High-calibre weapon
- Common sense
- Set off
- Warning shot
- Go some way
- Domestic violence