Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee Olympic runner from South Africa, was given parole on Friday, a decade after he fatally shot his girlfriend through a bathroom door at his residence. The Department of Corrections announced that he will be freed from prison on January 5th, but will be under strict supervision by parole officers for the remaining five years of his sentence. This high-profile killing shocked the global community.
Pistorius’ parole will come with other conditions, Department of Corrections spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo said outside of the prison where Pistorius has been incarcerated in the South African capital, Pretoria.
Pistorius is required to stay within the Pretoria region, unless granted permission by authorities. Additionally, he will participate in programs addressing anger management and violence against women. He is also responsible for completing community service.
According to Nxumalo, being paroled does not signify the completion of a sentence, but rather, it remains a part of the sentence. This only indicates that the inmate will serve the rest of their sentence outside of a correctional facility. Mr. Pistorius will then be assigned a monitoring official who will assist him until his sentence ends.
According to Nxumalo, the designated person in charge of monitoring must be informed of significant occurrences in Pistorius’ life, such as a desire to relocate or obtain employment.
Nxumalo stated that we must be aware of all activities.
According to Nxumalo, Pistorius will not be required to wear a monitoring bracelet as it is not a standard part of parole procedures in South Africa. Pistorius’ sentence will end on December 5, 2029.
Parole was approved during a prison hearing on Friday.
Pistorius, who celebrated his 37th birthday this week, has been incarcerated since late 2014 for the murder of model Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013. He was briefly released for house arrest in 2015 during one of his many appeals. He was ultimately found guilty of murder and given a prison sentence of 13 years and five months.
In South Africa, individuals who commit serious crimes must complete at least half of their sentence before being considered for parole. Pistorius has fulfilled this requirement.
During his peak of popularity and being highly revered as an athlete, Pistorius fatally shot Steenkamp in the bathroom of his villa in Pretoria before dawn. He used his licensed 9mm pistol and fired multiple shots.
Pistorius had his second parole hearing within eight months. During the first hearing in March, he was incorrectly deemed ineligible for early release due to a mistake made by an appeals court regarding the official start date of his sentence.
Pistorius was first found guilty of culpable homicide, which is similar to manslaughter, for the murder of Steenkamp. However, this conviction was later overturned and he was instead convicted of murder following an appeal by the prosecution. The prosecutors also appealed against the initial sentence of six years for murder, resulting in Pistorius ultimately receiving a sentence of 13 years and five months in prison.
During his trial for murder, Pistorius claimed that he accidentally shot and killed Steenkamp because he believed she was a threatening intruder hiding in his bathroom late at night. The prosecution argued that Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and reality TV personality, had sought refuge in the bathroom during a heated argument and Pistorius intentionally killed her out of anger.
Pistorius was ultimately found guilty of murder based on the legal concept of dolus eventualis, indicating that he acted with great negligence and should have been aware that the person behind the door would likely be killed. This is similar to a charge of third-degree murder.
Barry Steenkamp, father of Steenkamp, passed away in September. June Steenkamp, mother of Steenkamp, did not object to Pistorius’ release on parole. However, she stated before the hearing that she does not believe Pistorius has been completely rehabilitated and is still not being truthful about the murder.
In 2004, Rob Matthews, a man from South Africa, lost his 21-year-old daughter to murder. He later became a friend of the Steenkamp family. At the hearing, he read a statement from June Steenkamp, who expressed that she did not oppose Pistorius’ parole. She did not attend the hearing because she did not have the strength to face him again at this time.
However, June Steenkamp stated, “I do not trust Oscar’s explanation that he mistook the person in the bathroom for a burglar.” She added, “I do not know anyone who believes this. My beloved child screamed in terror for her life… I am convinced he knew it was Reeva.”
During his parole, Pistorius is anticipated to reside in his uncle’s extravagant mansion located in an affluent neighborhood of Pretoria. This is the same place where he stayed while on trial for murder.
Pistorius initially served time at a well-known prison from the apartheid era in Pretoria. In 2016, he was transferred to Atteridgeville Correctional Centre in the city. He is expected to be released from there in just over a month, marking his first public appearance in almost ten years.
There have been limited instances of getting a glimpse into Pistorius’ life in prison. According to his father, he has been conducting bible classes for other inmates, and a criminologist who worked with him mentioned that he has been operating a tractor in a section of the prison dedicated to growing vegetables.
According to Pistorius’ legal team, he has been an exemplary inmate. However, there have been some instances of conflict, such as an incident where Pistorius got into a fight with another prisoner over a phone call and had to seek medical attention.
Pistorius killed Steenkamp just months after he had become the first double-amputee to compete at the Olympics. He was also a multiple Paralympic sprinting champion and one of sport’s most marketable figures, having overcome the amputation of both his legs below the knee as a baby to run on specially designed carbon-fiber blades. He was known as the “Blade Runner.”
During his highly publicized trial, the prosecution presented evidence suggesting that Pistorius had a darker side involving firearms and aggressive altercations with others. Additionally, Pistorius was convicted of a second offense for negligently discharging a firearm in a restaurant.
Imray provided an update from Cape Town, South Africa.
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