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Judge due to deliver Pistorius appeal ruling

Published on 10/12/2014

A South African judge is expected to rule Wednesday on whether to grant an appeal against Oscar Pistorius's conviction and sentence, opening the door for the Paralympian sprinter to face a tougher jail term.

Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned court Tuesday to consider arguments presented by the state in favour of a stiffer sentence.

“I want to think about it,” said Judge Masipa, after hearing a forceful argument from state prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who described Pistorius’s five-year sentence as “shockingly inappropriate.”

Pistorius said he shot Reeva Steenkamp four times through a locked toilet door on Valentine’s Day 2013 in the belief she was an intruder.

Masipa found him guilty of culpable homicide, also known as manslaughter, and sentenced him to five years in jail, meaning that the 28-year-old could end up spending only 10 months of his jail term at Pretoria’s central prison.

Even though Pistorius is not present in court, reporters and photographers were stationed outside of the courthouse to capture the arrival of the legal teams Wednesday.

Flanked by criminal lawyer James Grant, Nel walked past photographers to enter the courthouse from the front door — a break in routine for the usually shy prosecutor.

The case has gripped South Africa, where coverage of the murder trial has dominated newspapers, radio and television as people discuss the fairness of the justice system.

“For me, the rich people, they can do anything, the poor people they just give up,” said Prince Ndlovu, a 32-year-old real estate agent walking close to the courthouse.

“If you go to court you need money, if you are poor, you’re going to jail.”

Thomas Mdlule, a 29-year-old selling newspapers on a street corner close, said his customers were outraged by the Pistorius sentence.

“My problem … he is supposed to get 15 years,” said Mdlule, “other people, if you have money, they will do what Pistorius did. It’s not alright.”