Almost 2 in 3 South Africans believe Oscar Pistorius intended to kill his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. This according to consumer insights company Pondering Panda, which interviewed 1357 adults between the ages of 18 and 49, across South Africa.
Interviews were conducted immediately after the judge’s verdict of culpable homicide in Pistorius’ trial was announced on Friday, September 12.
It was explained to respondents that the judge’s verdict meant that the court found that Pistorius did not intend to kill Steenkamp when he shot her, after which their opinion on the question of intent was asked.
The survey found that 63% of respondents believed he intended to kill her. In comparison, 30% agreed with the judge’s verdict, believing he did not intend to kill her, and 7% were unsure.
Reaction to this question differed according to age, with younger respondents significantly less likely than older ones to believe Oscar Pistorius meant to kill his girlfriend. 51% of 18 to 24 year olds felt he intended to kill her, compared to 63% of 25 to 34 year olds and 81% of 35 to 49 year olds.
Opinion was consistent among both men and women, and there were no significant differences among race groups.
Respondents were divided on the question of Pistorius’ sentencing, due to take place in October. After being told that the maximum sentence for culpable homicide was 15 years in prison, survey participants were asked what sentence they would give Pistorius if they were able to choose one.
The survey found that 27% would sentence Pistorius to less than 15 years in prison, and 22% would apply a 15-year sentence. In comparison, a significant number wanted to flout sentencing guidelines and sentence him to more than 15 years (22%) or hand down a life sentence (24%).
Once again, younger respondents were more likely to advocate a more lenient sentence, while older respondents were more inclined to give Pistorius a harsher sentence. There were no significant differences among gender or race groups.
Shirley Eadie, spokesperson for Pondering Panda, said, that the majority of South Africans interviewed for this survey disagreed with judge Thokozile Masipa’s verdict of culpable homicide in the Pistorius case, indicating widespread dissatisfaction with the verdict.
The trial has gripped the nation, and from what most know of the case, they feel that Oscar Pistorius is guilty of murder. We can therefore expect strong popular support for the state if it pushes for a retrial.
“When it comes to sentencing, South Africans are divided – about half would stick within sentencing guidelines for the charge of culpable homicide, but the other half believe he should be sent to jail for a far longer time, regardless of what the law mandates. We will have to wait until October to find out, but we plan to conduct new surveys in response to events as they happen.”
Interviews were carried out both on cellphones and online between the 12th and the 16th of September, across South Africa, excluding deep rural areas.
Responses were weighted to be nationally representative in terms of age, gender and race.