Court should consider denying Pistorius bail - NPA
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Friday said it was disappointed by the ruling of the high court in Pretoria, which acquitted Oscar Pistorius of murder and found him guilty of culpable homicide.
“At this point the matter is not concluded. We are still waiting for the sentence. It’s only after the sentence that the NPA can weigh its options and see whether they can take the matter forward,” NPA spokesperson Nathi Mncube told reporters outside the court. “We feel at this point we should respect the process that is still underway.”
Mncube said the court should consider denying Pistorius bail as he was a flight risk. “He has gotten rid of all his movable assets so we feel he is a flight risk at this point. Except his family, he doesn’t have anything keeping him in South Africa,” he said.
“The court must consider keeping him in custody until the matter is finished.” Pistorius was also acquitted on charges of illegal possession of ammunition and one charge on the illegal discharge of a firearm in a public place.
He was found guilty on the illegal discharge of a firearm in Tashas restaurant in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, in January 2013. On Thursday, Judge Thokozile Masipa acquitted Pistorius of murder finding that the evidence with regard to the charge was “purely circumstantial”.
However, she said Pistorius was negligent when he fired four shots into a toilet cubicle that killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14 2013. Pistorius said he thought an intruder was behind the door of the toilet in his Pretoria home when he shot through it. The state argued the murder was premeditated.
Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, and to three firearm-related charges.
Meanwhile, Pistorius convicted of culpable homicide, was led down to the high court in Pretoria’s holding cells after the state opposed the extension of his bail on Friday. “Culpable homicide is a schedule seven offence,” prosecutor Gerrie Nel said. “[This is a] serious case. Negligently and grossly negligent. Before today [Friday], the accused thought he could be acquitted.” Nel said prison was still a possibility for Pistorius and he should not be granted bail.
He said the athlete sold three properties and did not have a house and was living with his family. Nel said there was nothing keeping him in South Africa. “It is my respectful argument that it is not in the interest of justice to permit an accused who has been convicted in the high court on a matter of negligently killing the deceased ... bail,” said Nel.
“[He] should not be released on bail.” Also, while on bail, Pistorius was involved in an “incident” at a nightclub in the early morning hours in July which caused him to be asked to leave.
The family of the accused then admitted there was an incident and indicated to the media in a press release that his actions were “unwise” and underlied “some of his self-harming behaviour”, said Nel. Nel said this was serious after an expert said the athlete may be a suicide risk.
Barry Roux, SC, for Pistorius argued that the onus was on the state to prove that Pistorius should not get bail. “He previously complied with his bail conditions – there really is no reason for you to apply your mind any different,” said Roux. Roux said Pistorius sold his property to pay for his legal bills, adding this showed the respect Pistorius had for legal processes. “This was a long trial; it was an expensive trial,” said Roux.
However, Nel said: “It’s the accused version that he wanted to pay his legal fees. I’ve got no evidence to support this.” Roux said Pistorius had been living with his uncle Arnold for the past 18 months in Pretoria. – Sapa