Pistorius to be released in January – nearly 11 years after murdering girlfriend

World

Former Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius will be released from prison in January, nearly 11 years after murdering his girlfriend.

Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013 at his home in Pretoria, South Africa.

He said he fired his gun through a bathroom door after mistaking her for an intruder in the early hours.

The 37-year-old has been granted parole from 5 January, said South Africa‘s department of correctional services.

The parole will last until 5 December 2029 and he will be subject to conditions.

He won’t be able to leave his area of Pretoria without permission, must attend therapy for anger issues and “gender-based violence issues”, and will do community service.

“Parole does not mean the end of the sentence. It is still part of the sentence,” said prisons’ spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo.

“It only means the inmate will complete the sentence outside a correctional facility.”

Ms Steenkamp’s mother reacted to the parole by insisting Pistorius intentionally killed her daughter.

“My dearest child screamed for her life… I believe he knew it was Reeva,” she said in a statement.

The former athlete is expected to spend parole at his uncle’s mansion in a wealthy suburb – the same place he stayed during the trial.

Oscar Pistorius
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Pistorius is less than two months from being free again

His case – a decade ago – was televised in a blaze of publicity and made headlines around the world.

The prosecution argued the killing was premeditated and that he shot his model girlfriend after she fled to the toilet following a row.

He was initially not found guilty of murder and instead convicted of culpable homicide (the equivalent of manslaughter).

He was sentenced to five years in 2014 and eventually released to house arrest.

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Pistorius parole details revealed

A year later, the conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeal and he was found guilty of murder.

It ruled he should have foreseen the possibility of killing someone when he fired shots into the bathroom.

He was given six years in 2016 – later increased to 13 years and five months after it was deemed “shockingly lenient”.

The parole board considered his case again on Friday after denying him parole in March.

‘No one believes his story’

Ms Steenkamp’s mother had a statement read out by a family friend outside the prison.

She said she wasn’t opposing the parole and didn’t attend the hearing as “I simply cannot muster the energy to face him again at this stage”.

“I do not believe Oscar’s version that he thought the person in the toilet was a burglar,” June Steenkamp added.

“In fact, I do not know anybody who does. My dearest child screamed for her life… I believe he knew it was Reeva.”

Ms Steenkamp said she wasn’t convinced Pistorius had been rehabilitated – as “rehabilitation requires someone to engage honestly with the full truth of his crime and the consequences”.

 Nov. 4, 2012 file photo, South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp arrive for an awards ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa
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Pistorius with his model girlfriend in November 2012

Her husband, Barry Steenkamp, who attended the original trial alongside her, died in September aged 80.

Pistorius met with him inside jail in 2022 as part of a restorative justice programme that brings offenders and victims together.

Global star to murderer

The decision for a second parole hearing came after his lawyer took his case to the constitutional court over errors in calculating when he would be eligible for parole.

He was initially told he would only be eligible in August 2024, when he was in fact eligible in March.

Granting a second hearing was seen as effectively an admission of the court’s error.

Oscar Pistorius demonstrating to the court how he walks without his prosthetic legs
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During his trial Pistorius demonstrated how he walks without his prosthetics

Serious offenders are eligible for parole in South Africa after serving at least half their sentence.

Pistorius was born in 1986 and at 11 months old his legs were amputated below the knee because of a congenital defect.

He went on to compete at the Paralympics and became the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics.

Known as the Blade Runner because of his prosthetic blades, Pistorius established himself as an internationally recognised star and the most famous Paralympic athlete.

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