Friday, September 12, 2014


PRETORIA, South Africa — The murder trial of the Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius lurched to a close on Friday when he was convicted of culpable homicide in the shooting death last year of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. But in a case that reflected South Africa’s complicated obsession with race, crime and celebrity, many South Africans found understanding the verdict to be as difficult as trying to fathom exactly what was in Mr. Pistorius’s mind the night he pulled the trigger.
It is unclear yet whether Mr. Pistorius, who was acquitted of the two more serious murder charges against him, will do time in jail. The sentence for culpable homicide, a crime roughly commensurate with involuntary manslaughter, is left to the discretion of the judge and can range from no jail time to, in the most extreme cases, 15 years in prison. Lawyers say that often the sentences are very light.
Oscar Pistorius in court on Friday as he was convicted in the shooting death of his girlfriend. Credit
Some South Africans felt that Mr. Pistorius got off too lightly. “Will Oscar Walk?” said the headline in The Star newspaper. On Twitter, Trevor Noah, a comedian, asked why Molemo Maarohanye, a black rap star known as Jub Jub, had been sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing four people with his car while driving under the influence of drugs, while “Oscar went to fetch a gun but he gets less time?” And on the News24 website, a commenter named Peter Tracey called the verdict “a very sad indictment of our justice system.”


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