Pistorius murder ruling: Archbishop Makgoba praying for justice, healing and forgiveness

Oscar Pistorius.
Oscar Pistorius during his trial in the North Gauteng High Court.

Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba says he is praying for justice, healing and forgiveness after the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that Oscar Pistorius was guilty of murder, not manslaughter, in the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, reports Premier Christian Radio.

Reacting to yesterday’s unanimous ruling by five judges, Makgoba says he is praying that Pistorius will continue to receive spiritual support from Christians when he receives his new sentence, as well as the family of the late Reeva Steenkamp.

The former paralympian athlete was previously convicted of culpable homicide for shooting his girlfriend through the closed door of a lavatory at their home on February 14, 2013, and is currently under house arrest after serving a year in prison. The State appealed against the culpable homicide verdict by the North Gauteng High Court which must now impose a new sentence. Pistorius has said that reading his Bible and prayer has helped him deal with what happened.

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The leader of Anglicans in South Africa, Makgoba, also said the murder conviction sends a signal to women in South Africa highlighting the unacceptable nature of domestic abuse.

He told Premier’s News Hour: “I want to send my condolences to Reeva’s family, and equally I want to pray for all involved in the Pistorius family during this very trying time.

“My prayer is, particularly in the week just before we remember two years of Nelson Mandela’s passing on, we will have magnanimity of South Africans, we will pray that justice will be done but we will start the process of healing through whatever the courts will lead us.

“Whether he’s in or out [of prison] the pastors will still offer him [Pistorius] the necessary pastoral support without necessarily condoning what has happened, that the pastors will continue to offer Reeva’s family the pastoral and spiritual support.

“During this month of… activism against domestic abuse, we really need to be characterised by the rule of love and really need to honour each other. We really need to step away that demean both women and children and that the rule of law should take its course.

“Domestic violence is just too high. One woman abused is one too many.”

June Steenkamp
In an interview with the SABC, June Steenkamp, mother of the late Reeva, who attended yesterday’s proceedings at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, said he and her family are now be able to pick up their dismantled pieces.

“Yes, the truth, I see this [the appeal judgment] as the truth and the success is due to the justice system and God, but this is respect to my daughter and her life as well. And for women, because we have too much of this happening and people get away with it. And now we’ve seen that the justice system works. A life was taken and the person who took her life must pay the price now. If you do the crime you must do the time, I’m not interested in how much time, but I’m happy with the verdict,” says Steenkamp.

She has vowed to continue with her daughter’s legacy of building shelters for abused women. She was grateful of the support her family has received during the trying times.

“We will never get over this, we will never be free from the pain and the loss of her. And all the joy went out of our life when her life was taken,” she says.

Although it has been a gruelling journey, Steenkamp says something positive has come out of this situation.

It’s up to the justice system to decide how much time Oscar Pistorius should serve. She says she is now committed to advocate for women’s rights.
Steenkamp adds that she often visits high schools and encourages teenagers to open up to their parents.

She says it’s up to the justice system to decide how much time Oscar Pistorius should serve.

“It doesn’t really matter to me or us, we’re not interested. … It doesn’t make a difference to me if he does two years, five years, whatever, it’s their decision. And it’s not going change my life because my daughter is never coming back. I’ll just carry on with my work and if I could save one more woman I’ll be happy,” says Steenkamp.

Steenkamp says she has forgiven Pistorius, mostly so that she can carry on with her life.

ACDP welcomes decision
African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) MP and member of the Justice and Correctional Services Portfolio Committee, Steve Swart MP, yesterday welcomed the decision given by Appeal Judge Leach in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

“The ACDP welcomes this morning’s decision given by Appeal Judge Leach in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), overturning Judge Masipa’s High Court conviction of Mr Oscar Pistorius on a charge of culpable homicide and replacing it with a conviction of murder.

“This SCA judgement has provided much needed clarity on the right of the state to appeal, the application of the legal concept of dolus eventualis, the consideration of circumstantial evidence by a presiding officer, as well as the reliance on putative self-defence.

“We commend the National Prosecuting Authority and in particular state prosecutor Adv Gerrie Nel SC on this highly successful appeal. It is also a vindication of police crime scene forensic officer, Captain Mangena, whose evidence was part of the circumstantial evidence that should have been considered by the trial court.

“The case will now be referred back to the trial court for sentencing. In this regard, it is significant that because Mr Pistorius has now been found guilty of murder, the minimum sentencing legislation will apply. This means that Mr Pistorius could be facing a minimum of fifteen years in jail, unless the sentencing judge finds that substantial and compelling circumstances exist for a lower sentence.

“Lastly, we agree with Judge’s Leach’s description of Ms. Streenkamp’s death and Mr Pistorius’ fall from grace as “a human tragedy of Shakespearean proportions”. We believe that justice has now been done for Ms. Reeva Steenkamp and her family and await the outcome of the sentencing proceedings with keen interest,” he says.

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