There’s only one person who will ever know precisely what transpired in Oscar Pistorius’ home in an upscale Pretoria neighborhood in the early hours of Valentine’s Day three years ago.
But when he arrives in a South African court on Wednesday, one thing seems certain:It’s the last day Pistorius will be a free man for a long time.
The world’s most famous Paralympic athlete is due to be sentenced for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
Barring an appeal, it will be the final chapter of a saga that began on that fateful February morning in 2013 — when Pistorius fired four bullets through his bathroom door, killing Steenkamp — and that has transfixed South Africans ever since.
The amputee track star said he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder and feared for his life when he shot through the door. The prosecution said Pistorius had a violent streak, and that he murdered his lover after a late-night argument.
Steenkamp served as a presenter for FashionTV in South Africa. She was also an FHM cover girl and the face of cosmetics company Avon.
From law student to cover girl – South African model Reeva Steenkamp died in February 2013 after she was shot at the home of her boyfriend, Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius. She was 29. Pistorius has been found guilty of the murder, after South Africa’s Supreme Court overturned the previous conviction of culpable homicide.
Before she started dating Pistorius, Steenkamp was famous in her own right. She was a law school graduate with a vibrant personality and several modeling contracts under her belt.
The father of Reeva, said his wife, June, had forgiven Pistorius, but that the former Olympic and Paralympic sprinter must still pay the price for his crime.
“You have to understand that forgiveness doesn’t exonerate you from what you did.”
How long could Pistorius be behind bars?
If Masipa finds “compelling and substantial” reasons to grant Pistorius leniency, she could sentence him to less than the minimum 15 years.
If not, Pistorius will get 15 years and potentially more. He will have to spend at least half of this term in prison — unlike his previous five-year sentence for culpable homicide, when he was released into house arrest at his uncle’s mansion after spending roughly a year in a private cell in the hospital wing of a maximum-security prison.
CNN’s David McKenzie and Laura Perez-Maestro contributed to this report.