Oscar Pistorius released on parole 11 years after killing Reeva Steenkamp

Source: BBC 

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has been freed on parole from a South African jail, nearly 11 years after murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Officials confirmed Pistorius was “at home” on Friday morning, having served half of his more than 13-year sentence.

Ms Steenkamp’s mother said she accepted the decision to release the former athlete – but added her family was the one “serving a life sentence”.

Pistorius, now 37, shot Ms Steenkamp multiple times in 2013 through a door.

The double amputee later claimed he had mistaken her for a burglar.

Pistorius was eventually convicted of murder in 2015 after an appeal court overturned an earlier verdict of culpable homicide.

Under South African law, all offenders are entitled to be considered for parole once they have served half their total sentence, which for Pistorius was finally set in 2017 at 13 years and five months.

He will live under strict conditions – including being unable to speak to the media – until his sentence expires in 2029.

He is believed to have gone to live at the home of his uncle Arnold Pistorius in an upmarket suburb of the capital, Pretoria.

June Steenkamp said in a statement that the family had “always known that parole is part of the South African legal system” and had “always said that the law must take its course”.

Mrs Steenkamp said she welcomed the conditions imposed by the parole board – which include anger management courses and programmes on gender-based violence – adding that those decisions had “affirmed Barry and my belief in the South African justice system,” referring to her late husband. 

But, she asked: “Has there been justice for Reeva? Has Oscar served enough time? There can never be justice if your loved one is never coming back, and no amount of time served will bring Reeva back. We, who remain behind, are the ones serving a life sentence.”

She added: “My only desire is that I will be allowed to live my last years in peace with my focus remaining on the Reeva Rebecca Steenkamp Foundation, to continue Reeva’s legacy.”

Pistorius first went to prison in October 2014, shortly after his initial conviction. There was a period between 2015 and 2016 when he was released under house arrest before his conviction was changed and sentenced lengthened.

Pistorius’s lower legs were amputated when he was less than a year old. He subsequently relied on prosthetics and became a world-renowned athlete known as the “blade runner”. 

He had a successful career on the track, first at the Paralympics, winning multiple golds, and then cementing his reputation after competing against non-disabled athletes at the London Olympics in 2012. The murder of Ms Steenkamp just six months later, and the subsequent trials, dominated headlines around the world.

South Africa’s department of correctional services said that despite his high public profile, the former star will be treated like anyone else on parole.

This means that he will be confined to his home for certain hours of the day and he is banned from drinking alcohol. He is also not permitted to speak to the media.

Ms Steenkamp, who was 29 when she died, was a law graduate and successful model who also worked as a TV presenter and appeared in a reality show called Tropika Island of Treasure.

She had planned to start a law firm to help abused women after graduating.

Ms Steenkamp was three months into her relationship with Pistorius when he fired four shots with a pistol through the door of a toilet cubicle at his house in Pretoria in the early hours of 14 February 2013.

She died almost instantly.

The state charged Pistorius with murder but he was convicted in 2014 of the lesser offence of culpable homicide, or manslaughter.

The following year, judges at the Supreme Court of Appeal changed his conviction to murder, saying that his version of events was inconsistent and improbable and that he had “fired without having a rational or genuine fear that his life was in danger”.

The trials of Oscar Pistorius

  • August 2012: Competes in London Olympics and Paralympics, where he won a gold medal
  • February 2013: Shoots dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
  • March 2014: Trial begins
  • September 2014: Judge finds Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide
  • October 2014: Begins five-year sentence
  • October 2015: Transferred to house arrest
  • December 2015: Appeal court changes verdict to murder
  • July 2016: Returns to prison after being sentenced to six years for murder
  • November 2017: Appeal court increases sentence to 13 years and five months
  • June 2022: Meets Ms Steenkamp’s father, Barry, as part of a restorative justice programme
  • November 2023: Parole board agrees Pistorius should be released
  • January 2024: Freed from prison under parole conditions

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