- Associated Press
Oscar Pistorius Is Set to be Released on Parole. He Will Be Strictly Monitored Until December 2029
10:49 JST, January 5, 2024
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius is due to be released from prison Friday to live under strict conditions at a family home having served nearly nine years of a murder sentence for the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
The double-amputee Olympic runner from South Africa is set to leave the Atteridgeville Correctional Centre in Pretoria after being approved for parole in November, the second time he had applied. It will give the world a chance at its first glimpse in nearly a decade of the one-time sporting superstar who stunningly fell from grace after shooting Steenkamp multiple times through a closed toilet door at his home in the predawn hours of Valentine’s Day 2013.
South Africa’s Department of Corrections declined to give any detail of when and how Pistorius would be released, saying “inmates and parolees are never paraded.” Pistorius’ public profile “does not make him different from other inmates nor warrant inconsistent treatment,” the Department of Corrections said in a statement Wednesday.
Pistorius, 37, is expected to initially reside at his uncle’s luxurious mansion in the upscale Pretoria suburb of Waterkloof, where he lived during his dramatic murder trial and was held under house arrest for a period from 2015-2016. On Thursday, bright yellow traffic barriers had been placed across a road leading to his uncle’s house, possibly in preparation for Pistorius’ arrival.
The multiple Paralympic champion will live under correctional supervision until the remainder of his murder sentence of 13 years and five months expires in December 2029, the Department of Corrections said. Serious offenders in South Africa are eligible for parole after serving at least half of their sentence, which Pistorius has done.
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.
The Corrections Department has emphasized that his release — like every other offender on parole — does not mean that he has served his time.
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.
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 house.
Before the killing, Pistorius was held up as an inspiring role model having had both of his legs amputated below the knee as a baby because of a congenital condition. He became a champion 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.
But his murder trial shattered that reputation 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 during an appeal in 2015 and was sent back to prison in 2016.
Reaction to Pistorius’ parole has been muted in South Africa, a stark contrast to the first days and months after Steenkamp’s killing, which enraged many and 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.”
“We tend to forget that there is a possibility where somebody can be rehabilitated.”
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