Jean-Jacques Cornish

Oscar Pistorius’ lawyers contest appeal

Lawyers for jailed Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius will be back in court next month challenging the state’s right to appeal his sentence for manslaughter and getting a murder sentence.

Pistorius, who’s serving a five-year sentence for shooting dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, could be moved to house arrest in August.

In December Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled that the state could appeal her verdict of culpable homicide for which jailed Oscar Pistorius and seek to have it upgraded to murder

An appeal can only be granted on a question of law, not on a judge’s factual findings.

Masipa says her verdict’s based on her interpretation of law.

On March 13 in the Johannesburg high court, Pistorius’ defence will contest this.

His lawyer Brian Webber says they’ll argue that these are matters of fact, rather than matters of law and an appeal can only be granted on a question of law, not on a judge’s factual findings.

By lodging the application now, Pistorius’s defence team hope that Masipa will concede that another court could find the verdict was based on fact rather than law. This may prove a crucial legal weapon for them and deprive the state of momentum when the case is heard at the supreme court later this year.

Pistorius killed Steenkamp by shooting four times through a locked toilet door at his luxury home in Pretoria two years ago. He told the court that he mistook her for an intruder.


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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.