Oscar Pistorius leaves the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa last week. Charlie Shoemaker / Getty Images
Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee Olympic track star who was convicted in the shooting death of his late girlfriend, believes she would not want him to be imprisoned for the crime.
Pistorius, who is awaiting sentencing for killing Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013 in South Africa, was found guilty of murder in March. He had spent a year in jail on the conviction of the lesser crime of culpable homicide — manslaughter — but, last December, prosecutors successfully had that verdict overturned in favor of the more serious crime when an appeals court ruled the judge in the original trial had misapplied South African law.
The minimum sentence for murder in South Africa is 15 years.
“I don’t want to go back to jail. I don’t want to have to waste my life sitting there,” Pistorius said in an interview with Britain’s ITV that will air Friday. “If I was afforded the opportunity of redemption, I would like to help the less fortunate, like I had in my past. I would like to believe that if Reeva could look down upon me that she would want me to live that life.”
Pistorius, who is currently free on bail, does not dispute that he shot Steenkamp but claims that he mistook her for a burglar when he fired four bullets through the door of the toilet in his bedroom.
The Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that he was guilty of murder no matter who was behind the door when he fired the gun he kept under his bed. Pistorius claimed that he kept the weapon because he feared crime while sleeping with his leg prostheses off.
“Reeva was a fantastic person, but if (people believe) that I took her life intentionally, which has not been found, then it’s a very sad thing,” Pistorius said.
During the interview, Pistorius weeps as he describes the night of the shooting. He describes firing the gun through the closed door, opening it to find Steenkamp and not an intruder slumped on the toilet and attempting to revive her. He has wondered, he said, “a million times” how the shooting could have been averted if Steenkamp had told him she was going to the toilet or had called out to him from the cubicle.
“It’s difficult to know if one of those small things didn’t happen that the situation would be different. And I would still have her here with me,” he said. “I understand the pain people feel, that loved her and miss her. I feel that same pain.
“And I look back and I think, I always think — how did this possibly happen? I think, how could this have happened? How could this have happened?”