Saturday, September 20, 2014

Reeva’s parents may still sue Oscar

Reeva’s parents may still sue Oscar

September 20 2014

Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide following his killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Picture: Alon Skuy

Johannesburg - Oscar Pistorius may have escaped a murder charge, but he could still have to face the music for taking Reeva Steenkamp’s life.

Advocate Dup de Bruyn, who represents the dead woman’s parents Barry and June Steenkamp, said on Friday the family were still considering a civil claim against the convicted paralympian, but were waiting for sentencing procedures to be completed.

It was earlier reported that Reeva had supported her parents financially, and that they would sue Pistorius for loss of income and emotional distress.

The Steenkamps have not conducted interviews with local newspapers since Pistorius’s conviction last week. They did however speak to US news network NBC.

De Bruyn told Weekend Argus sister title the Saturday Star that the newspaper would not be granted an interview as the family were “contractually bound”.

On Friday, it emerged that June Steenkamp was writing a memoir about Reeva’s life and her own experiences during the trial, she told The Independent in the UK.

Titled Reeva, A Mother’s Story, the book is described as a “painfully honest and unflinching account of Reeva’s life”, in which June will also talk about her experience of sitting in the courtroom where Pistorius was on trial for the premeditated murder of her daughter.

June said: “Reeva was a beautiful and intelligent woman.

“She was always so much more than just someone’s girlfriend. She devoted her life to helping people around her and she believed passionately in human rights. She was set to make her mark on the world. That opportunity was taken from her.

“This book is my way of making sure she will not be forgotten.”

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has set in motion a process that will widen prosecuting authorities’ scope when appealing court findings.

This comes as the State decides whether to appeal against the Pretoria High Court findings that led to Pistorius being cleared of murder.

Department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said this week that a bill, aimed at amending the Criminal Procedure Act to give the Director of Public Prosecutions the right to appeal on questions of fact, had been prepared.

The bill is in the process of being submitted to Justice Minister Michael Masutha for his consideration, and for ap-proval to promote it in Parliament.

Currently, the law gives the Director of Public Prosecutions the right to appeal against the granting of bail to an accused, and an inadequate sentence. In addition, the State has the right to appeal against acquittals, but only on questions of law.

However, it does not have the right to appeal against a finding of not guilty on questions of fact.

Pistorius shot and killed Steenkamp at his Pretoria home on Valentine’s Day last year. His version was that he thought an intruder had broken into his house, and that he fired shots through a closed toilet door to protect himself and Steenkamp.

Some legal commentators were critical of Judge Thoko-zile Masipa’s application of the concept of dolus eventualis (indirect intent) when she found Pistorius not guilty of murder, and instead convicted him of culpable homicide.

For a court to convict an accused of murder on the basis of dolus eventualis, it must find that he subjectively foresaw that someone could be killed as a result of his actions, and that he consciously accepted that possibility before proceeding.

What got the legal commentators talking was Judge Masipa’s finding that the State had failed to prove that Pistorius foresaw the possibility that he would kill the person behind the toilet door when he fired the shots.

This, according to many legal minds, is a question of law which the State is allowed to appeal against, if it is granted leave to appeal.

Criminal law attorney William Booth agreed, but added that the judge could say that she made a factual finding.

Sentencing procedures in Pistorius’s case are scheduled for next month.

Saturday Star and Weekend Argus

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