Legal experts believe it will be at least six years before convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius will be eligible for parole.
Pistorius will be sentenced in the Pretoria High Court by Judge Thokozile Masipa tomorrow.
By law the crime of murder carries a minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment.
Not only will it be years before he is released, but the likelihood of Pistorius being able to appeal his sentence is slim, say law academics, who believe that he will receive at least 12 years’ direct imprisonment.
While Judge Masipa will take into account the year Pistorius spent behind bars on a culpable homicide conviction, experts doubt he will get off lightly.
The Supreme Court of Appeal overturned the culpable homicide conviction, stating that Pistorius was guilty of murder. The Constitutional Court upheld that ruling.
Legal expert Dr Llewellyn Curlewis, chairman of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces’ criminal law committee, said Masipa could work only within the parameters of a minimum of 15 years’ imprisonment.
“She must start by deducting one year for the time Pistorius has already served. She then has the discretion, in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act, to deduct more time where she finds compelling and substantial evidence.
“Rehabilitation factors alone do not suffice. What will be taken into consideration is the fact that he is a double amputee, [that he is] willing to undergo rehabilitation and whether she believes he has shown proper remorse,” Curlewis said.
“If she hands down a sentence of between 11 and 14 years she will be spot on in terms of sentencing.
“But, unlike his culpable homicide conviction, where correctional supervision was imposed, this sentence is one of direct imprisonment. Pistorius will have to serve half [his term] before he will be eligible for parole.
“He cannot deviate from this, which means he will probably serve at least six years in prison.”
Wits University law professor Stephen Tuson said three factors had to be taken into consideration when it came to sentencing: the offender’s circumstances, the seriousness of the offence and the interest of society.
He said Masipa had to exact an appropriate level of retribution “without destroying the offender”.