Judge Masipa Delivers Mercy and Justice
Judge Thokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail Oscar Pistorius for the culpable homicide of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. It’s likely anything else would have seen outrage – riots, even – at home in South Africa, as well as uproar around the world.
As it is, a five-year sentence feels like the perfect verdict, even if, as seems the case, a hefty proportion of it will be spent under house arrest. Public opinion, even that which is expressed violently, should have no weight when it comes to judges’ verdicts. All that matters is the case in hand. But if any verdict could help heal the wounds inflicted by such a senseless killing, this one just might.
A non-custodial sentence would have sent the wrong message – that if you’re famous enough, and weep and retch enough in court, you can get away with manslaughter. A long jail sentence, on the other hand, would have felt like grandstanding, banging up Oscar and throwing away the key to demonstrate that fame does not confer immunity from the law.