Johannesburg: Blade runner Oscar Pistorius is unlikely to serve the full five-year jail term after he was found guilty of culpable homicide for killing his girlfriend last year, legal experts said on Tuesday.
In terms of current legislation which places strong emphasis on the rehabilitation of offenders, Pistorius could be out of prison in ten months' time, according to some criminal law analysts.
"Five years in terms of [Section] 276 of the Criminal Procedure Act means the accused serves one-sixth of the sentence, which is 10 months," justice department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said on his Facebook wall.
"And an offender or inmate can be considered for placement under correctional supervision which is processed by correctional services," Mhaga said. 27-year-old Pistorius said he fired four shots through the door of the toilet his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was in, believing that he was under threat from an in truder on Valentine's Day at his upmarket home in Pretoria last year.
Judge Thokozile Masipa delivered her judgement today after a lengthy trial which was televised live and sparked interest across the globe. He will spend the night at the Kgosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria and then a minimum of a sixth of his sentence before being eligible for parole. Masipa dismissed claims from his legal team and witnesses that South Africa's prisons do not have adequate facilities for people with disabilities like Pistorius.
Pistorius achieved international fame as an athlete running on prosthetic legs. Masipa said the sentence imposed is the maximum of five years in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act.
On the second count of contravening Firearms Control Act, the sentence imposed was three years imprisonment, wholly suspended for a period of five years.
Both the sentences are to run concurrently.
The state had argued for a ten-year imprisonment, while the defence said that house arrest and community service would be appropriate. At a media briefing afterwards, Pistorius' uncle Arnold Pistorius hinted that there would not be an appeal against the judgement.
"It has been a harrowing 20 months. We are all emotionally drained and exhausted," Arnold said.
"We accept the judgement. Oscar will embrace this opportunity to pay back to society. I appeal to all of you as the media to accept the ruling of the court. Give us some degree of dignity and privacy."
"I hope Oscar will start his own healing process as he walks down the path of restoration," he added.