By Ed Stoddard
PORT ELIZABETH South Africa (Reuters) – As Judge Thokolize Masipa told track star Oscar Pistorius he would go to jail for killing Reeva Steenkamp, customers at the bar owned by her parents held up their palms to signify “five years” and murmured approval.
The gathering of half a dozen of Steenkamp’s family friends sat glued to the television at the “Barking Spider”, smoking and drinking beer despite the early workday hour.
The Olympic and Paralympic athlete was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday for shooting his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day last year. He could be released in 10 months for good behaviour, his lawyers said.
Once a golden boy of athletics, the disabled 27-year-old has no fans at the Barking Spider, a pub frequented by equestrians, where the toilets are labelled “fillies” and “colts”.
But reaction to the sentencing at the bar in Steenkamp’s hometown in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth was mixed.
“I thought he would walk. I think justice was done because at least he got jail time,” said 50-year-old Martin Cohen, who worked as a race horse trainer with Reeva’s father, Barry.
“Now that justice has been done I think the parents will get some closure.”
Not everyone thought justice was served.
The ruling was a “travesty of justice”, said 55-year-old jockey Shannon Devoy, clad in riding trousers and boots.
“After eight months he might get parole. I don’t think it’s sent a proper message to South Africa.”
The 29-year-old Steenkamp, a law graduate, moved to Johannesburg from Port Elizabeth to pursue a career as a model, where she met Pistorius.
(Editing by David Dolan and Louise Ireland)
- Society Culture
- Crime Justice
- Oscar Pistorius
- Reeva Steenkamp