PRETORIA: South Africa’s ex-Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius will be released from prison in January after he was granted parole on Friday, a decade after he shot dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in a crime that gripped the world, prison authorities said.
Steenkamp’s mother, who had said she did not believe the ex-athlete was rehabilitated for he had not shown true remorse, was “satisfied” with the parole terms, which include therapy for anger and gender-based violence issues, according to her lawyer.
“She feels heard,” June Steenkamp’s lawyer, Tania Koen, told AFP. “(The ruling) sends a clear message that gender-based violence won’t be tolerated.” A parole board reviewing whether Pistorius, 37, was fit for social reintegration decided to allow him out of prison early, the department of correctional services said.
“Mr Pistorius will complete the remainder of the sentence in the system of community corrections and will be subjected to supervision in compliance with parole conditions until his sentence expires,” the department said. He will be released on January 5.
A spokesman for Steenkamp’s family said that as part of the parole conditions, Pistorius will have to do community service and attend therapy for anger and gender-based violence issues. He will also not be allowed to leave the Pretoria district of Waterkloof without prior authorisation, Steenkamp family spokesman Rob Matthews said, adding the parole period will end in December 2029.
Before being let out, Pistorius will undergo a pre-release programme that is to prepare him for life outside prison, said department of correctional services spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo. “Not everyone will find it easy to adjust,” Nxumalo said, adding the scheme was to prepare inmates that “not everyone will welcome you as others will open their arms”. — AFP
Pistorius killed Steenkamp, a model, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013, firing four times through the bathroom door of his ultra-secure Pretoria house. Known worldwide as the “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fibre prosthetics, he was found guilty of murder and given a 13-year jail sentence in 2017 after a lengthy trial and several appeals.
He had pleaded not guilty and denied killing Steenkamp in a rage, saying he mistook her for a burglar. But June Steenkamp, who was not present at the parole hearing on Friday and was being represented by Matthews and a lawyer, said she does not believe Pistorius has told the truth about what happened.
“I do not believe Oscar’s version,” she said in her submission to the board. “My dear child screamed for her life loud enough for the neighbours to hear her. I do not know what gave rise to his choice to shoot through a closed door four times at somebody with hollow-point ammunition when I believe he knew it was Reeva.” — AFP