PRETORIA, South Africa — -- The prosecution in the trial of Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has indicated it will appeal both Pistorius’ culpable homicide conviction as well as his sentence.
The athlete was found guilty of culpable homicide - a lesser charge than the murder rap he initially faced - for shooting and killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year.
Judge Thokozile sentenced him to five years behind bars last week. The act under which he was sentenced, makes provision for a sentence conversion after he has served a sixth of his term, meaning he could be placed under house arrest in 10 months. He is currently serving a prison term in Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru II prison.
Pistorius, 27, also received a three year sentence for discharging a firearm in a busy restaurant in January last year. That sentence was suspended for five years.
Arnold Pistorius, Oscar Pistorius' uncle, said on behalf of the family, "We note the state's announcement that it intents to appeal. The law must take its course."
Prosecutors have declined to reveal the grounds on which they are appealing, but they have confirmed they will file an application to appeal within the next few days.
“The appeal on conviction is based on the question of law," spokesman Nathi Mncube said in a statement. "The merits and the demerits of the NPA's argument in this regard will become evident when we file papers for leave to appeal.”
Mncube said that prosecutor Gerrie Nel and assistant prosecutor Andrea Johnson had been studying the judgment, doing research and consulting legal experts to establish if there were sufficient grounds to lodge appeals.
Nel consulted with Wits University criminal law and criminal procedure lecturer Professor James Grant, who has confirmed that they discussed the possibility of lodging an appeal against the Pistorius conviction.
Once the state has lodged its application to appeal, the judge would have to decide whether she will allow the appeal to proceed. If she rejects the request, Nel can turn to the Supreme Court of Appeals in Bloemfontein. The appeals process can take years to be concluded.
In another twist in the case against the Blade Runner, the Department of Social Development said today that it is considering taking disciplinary action against probation officer and social worker Annette Vergeer who testified that South Africa's prisons were in deplorable shape and urged the court to sentence Pistorius to house arrest.
The department said it was considering disciplinary action against Vergeer because she was providing private services to the defense team without permission in "what seems to be a conflict of interest.”