Ten months into his five year sentence for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, South African athlete Oscar Pistorius is about to be released from prison into house arrest.
Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide—which, in South Africa, is essentially manslaughter—in September of last year. But the court said they didn't have enough evidence to convict him of pre-meditated murder. Judge Thokozile Masipa sentenced him to five years in prison; the maximum sentence for culpable homicide in South Africa is 15 years.
The court set a requirement for him to serve a minimum of a sixth of his sentence in prison. That ten months is almost up, and on Aug. 21 he'll be back at home with an electronic tag to monitor him.
On Valentine's Day 2013, Pistorius killed Steenkamp by firing four shots through the closed bathroom door of his villa in Pretoria. Pistorius said he thought an intruder was in the bathroom. Neighbors said they heard arguments and a woman screaming before the shots and while the shots were being fired.
Throughout the trial, women's rights groups raised the possibility that Steenkamp had fled to the bathroom in the first place because she was afraid of an allegedly abusive Pistorius. For some local women's advocates, the trial was an example of South Africa's legal system failing to take a stand stand against domestic violence and abuse. The African National Congress' Women's League said the verdict was unacceptable.
Internationally, women's advocates called for longer sentences for perpetrators of domestic violence and for courts to take domestic violence crimes more seriously. "As the Oscar Pistorius trial comes to an end, we hope governments across the globe take robust and urgent action to end violence against women. They should also increase support to women’s rights organisations which provide specialist support for women survivors of violence," said Bethan Cansfield, Policy Manager at UK advocacy group Womankind Worldwide, told the Independent.
Pistorius' conviction is being challenged in South Africa's Supreme Court, which is due to take up the appeal in November this year. State prosecutors are pushing for a murder verdict.
“Our argument was that he should have been convicted of murder, and then would have been sentenced to a minimum sentence of 15 years,” Nathi Mncube, the spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority, told The New York Times soon after the ruling.