Oscar Pistorius to be released on parole after nearly 9 years in prison | Inquirer Sports

Oscar Pistorius to be released on parole after nearly 9 years in prison

/ 03:20 PM January 05, 2024

FILE - Oscar Pistorius leaves the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, on June 14, 2016 during his trail for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

FILE – Oscar Pistorius leaves the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, on June 14, 2016 during his trail for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Oscar Pistorius is due on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024 to be released from prison on parole to live under strict conditions at a family home after serving nearly nine years of his murder sentence for the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File)

PRETORIA, South Africa— South African athlete Oscar Pistorius was due to be released from prison on parole Friday, more than a decade after he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in a Valentine’s Day killing that shattered the reputation of a sports superstar.

Television crews, photographers and news reporters gathered outside the gates of the Atteridgeville Correctional Center in the South African capital of Pretoria before 6 a.m., waiting to catch a glimpse of the world-famous double-amputee Olympic runner.

Department of Corrections officials have said that Pistorius’ release time on Friday will not be announced ahead of time and he will not be “paraded,” indicating they will attempt to keep him away from the media glare that has trailed him since he shot Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet door at his home in the predawn hours of Feb. 14, 2013.

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Officials are expected to transport Pistorius, 37, from the prison to a corrections department office to be processed before he is officially released on parole. He is expected to initially live at his uncle’s mansion in the upscale Pretoria suburb of Waterkloof, where he lived during his murder trial and where he was held on house arrest for a period in 2015-2016.

Bright yellow traffic barriers have been placed across a road leading to his uncle’s house, possibly in preparation for Pistorius’ arrival.

Pistorius was approved for parole in November, the second time he had applied. He has served nearly nine years of his 13 years and five months murder sentence for the killing of Steenkamp. Serious offenders in South Africa are eligible for parole after serving at least half of their sentence.

READ: Oscar Pistorius bruised in a jail fight over telephone use

The multiple Paralympic champion will live under strict conditions until the remainder of his sentence expires in December 2029, the Department of Corrections said. It emphasized that his release — like every other offender on parole — does not mean that he has served his time.

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Some of Pistorius’ parole conditions include restrictions on when he’s allowed to leave his home, a ban on consuming alcohol, and orders that he must attend programs on anger management and on violence against women. He will have to perform community service.

Pistorius will also have to regularly meet with parole officials at his home and at correctional services offices and will be subjected to unannounced visits by authorities. He is not allowed to leave the Waterkloof district without permission and is banned from speaking to the media until the end of his sentence. He could be sent back to jail if he is in breach of any of his parole conditions.

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South Africa's double amputee athlete Oscar Pistorius takes the start of the men's 400m heats at the athletics event of the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 4, 2012 in London.

Oscar Pistorius. AFP

South Africa does not use tags or bracelets on paroled offenders so Pistorius will not wear any monitoring device, Department of Corrections officials said. But he will be constantly monitored by a department official appointed to his case and will have to inform the official of any major changes in his life, such as if he wants to get a job or move to another house.

Pistorius has maintained that he shot Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and law graduate, by mistake. He testified that he believed Steenkamp was a dangerous intruder hiding in his bathroom and shot through the door multiple times with his licensed 9 mm pistol in self-defense.

Prosecutors said he killed his girlfriend intentionally during a late-night argument.

Steenkamp’s family did not oppose his parole application in November, although her mother, June Steenkamp, said in a victim statement submitted to the board that made the decision that she didn’t believe Pistorius had been fully rehabilitated and was still lying about the killing.

Before the killing, Pistorius was held up as an inspiring role model after having had both of his legs amputated below the knee as a baby because of a congenital condition. He became a champion Paralympics sprinter on his carbon-fiber running blades and made history by competing at the 2012 London Olympics. He was widely admired for his apparent humble nature.

READ: Pistorius faces return to jail for lover’s murder

But his murder trial destroyed that image and revealed another side to his life. He was accused of being prone to angry outbursts and acting recklessly with guns, while witnesses testified about various altercations he had with others, including an argument in which he allegedly threatened to break a man’s legs.

Pistorius was first convicted of culpable homicide — a charge comparable to manslaughter — and sentenced to five years in prison for killing Steenkamp. After appeals by prosecutors, he was ultimately found guilty of murder and had his sentence increased, although that judgment by the Supreme Court of Appeal still didn’t definitively rule that he knew it was Steenkamp behind the toilet door.

Pistorius was first sent to prison in 2014, was released on house arrest in 2015 during an appeal and was sent back to prison in 2016. He was initially held at the maximum security Kgosi Mampuru II Prison in Pretoria but was moved to Atteridgeville early in his sentence because it is better suited to holding disabled prisoners.

Reaction to Pistorius’ parole has been muted in South Africa, a stark contrast to the first days and months after Steenkamp’s killing, which sparked angry protests outside of Pistorius’ court hearings calling for him to receive a long prison sentence. There is no death penalty in South Africa.

“He has ticked all the necessary boxes,” said Themba Masango, secretary general of Not In My Name International, a group that campaigns against violence against women. “And we can only wish and hope Oscar Pistorius will come out a better human being.”

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“We tend to forget that there is a possibility where somebody can be rehabilitated.”

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