Oscar Pistorius gets five years: #nojustice response on Twitter

Judge Thokozile Masipa said she worked to balance competing interests in her sentencing of the Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius. But how is it balanced in the eyes of the global public?

Themba Hadebe/AP
Oscar Pistorius, center, gestures after he was sentenced in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year.

The five-year prison sentence handed down to Olympic track star Oscar Pistorius for killing his girlfriend last Valentine’s Day has prompted some strong reactions from those concerned about the message it sends about domestic violence cases in South Africa and beyond.

Judge Thokozile Masipa cited “gross negligence” on the part the double-amputee runner in her sentence, which she said was a balancing act between retribution and clemency.

“I am of the view that a non-custodial sentence would send a wrong message to the community,” Masipa said after summarizing parts of the case and explaining why she reached her decision. “On the other hand, a long sentence would not be appropriate either as it would lack the element of mercy.”

The five-year sentence could actually mean as few as 10 months in prison, with Pistorius serving out the remainder under house arrest.

This is not sitting well with many who have taken to social media to express their disgust.

“Pistorius’ ridiculous sentence says a lot about how the court puts racial and male privilege above the safety of women,” tweeted Garikai Chengu

“#Pistorius’ five-year jail sentence, ten months of which will be served in prison, belittles domestic violence against women.” added Jonny Gould.

The verdict quickly created  “#nojustice” as a trend, with others using the hashtag #ThingsLongerThanOscarsSentence.

Meanwhile, the sentencing has angered some who say the trial has distracted from non-celebrity domestic violence.

An estimated 2,361 women in South Africa have been killed by their partners since Steenkamp’s death, according to a Mama Mia posting, which doesn't give a source for the figure. If accurate, that’s four women each day.

“We will likely never know these women’s names and we will never know their stories. Nor will we ever know whether the men who murdered these women were brought to justice or whether they evaded punishment. Such is the nature and extent of the problem,” wrote Nina Funnell. “And if we genuinely care about the life and ambitions of Reeva Steenkamp – who was herself an advocate against gender-based violence – we can’t continue to ignore this problem.”

Some have compared the trial saga to that of OJ Simpson, who was accused and acquitted of killing his wife, in the United States.

Early on in the trial the Monitor reported Pistorius’s fame and media frenzy had many dubbing it “South Africa’s OJ Simpson trial.”

The comparisons were reawakened after what some considered a light sentencing.

But not all reaction to the sentencing has been negative. Some offered support to Steenkamp’s family and praise of Masipa’s handling of the trial.

“Pistorius five-year sentence reflects Judge Masipa’s judicial objectivity wisdom & humanity shown throughout trial,” tweeted Melanie Phillips.

The Economist reported that Steenkamp’s family and friends seemed accepting of the sentence.

“It’s right,” said her mother, June Steenkamp, smiling gently, as she left the courtroom.

South Africa’s News24 reported the head of the National Prosecuting Authority said he would discuss a possible appeal with prosecutors, adding that senior prosecuting staff were “agitated” about the outcome of the case.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Oscar Pistorius gets five years: #nojustice response on Twitter
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today