The Supreme Court of Appeal has overturned the conviction of manslaughter which Oscar Pistorius was handed for the killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He has now has been found guilty of murder under the principal of dolus eventualis.
The North Gauteng High Court will now decide on a new sentence; the paralympian could face 15 years in prison.
Oscar Pristorius charged with murder. Judge Eric Leach read out the judgment which found that North Gauteng High Court Judge Thokozile Masipa made “serious errors of law in her ruling”.
He dismissed the argument of Pistorius’s legal counsel Barry Roux that the State’s appeal was based on facts and not on law.
Leach said this was a unanimous decision made by all five presiding judges, including Judge President Lex Mpati, Judges Nonkosi Mhlanthla, Eric Leach, Steven Majiedt and acting judge Elizabeth Baartman.
During the appeal held in November, State prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued that Judge Masipa did not consider critical ballistics evidence submitted by Captain Chris Mangena.
“The failure to include the evidence is of particular importance,” said Leach.
“It’s clear from reconstruction and photographs, the path each bullet took would have struck the person standing behind hit. There would have been nowhere for the deceased to hide,” he said.
Pistorius must have forseen the potential consequences of his actions, said the judge.
Leach said the North Gauteng High court correctly found that Pistorius was a poor witness.
Legal experts said this case will have far-reaching implications for principals of law in the future.
Defence lawyer, Ulrich Roux, said the judgment will provide the legal fraternity the “clarity every one seeks on the dolus eventualis principle and what that actually means.”
Leach concluded his judgment by saying that Masipa conducted the trial with a “degree of patience that is a credit to the courts of this country.”
“The fact that the State’s appeal is successful is not a slight against the judge,” he said.