Just before Valentine’s Day ten years ago, everything changed when he killed his girlfriend. Half of his prison sentence served, the former Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius, now aged 36, will soon be set on a possible parole.
A commission is meeting on Friday, March 31, in Pretoria to decide whether or not to release early the former king of stadiums who had both legs amputated and was convicted of the February 2013 murder of Reeva Steenkamp, the justice ministry said and the South African prison service.
The decision of the committee, notably composed of representatives of the prison services, the police and ordinary civilians, should be made in the coming days, after deliberation. South African law provides that a convict may, once half of his sentence has been served, benefit from a sentence adjustment.
Oscar Pistorius, sentenced on appeal to thirteen years and five months in prison in November 2017, has been eligible since July 2021. His behavior in detention, his physical and mental state as well as the risk of recidivism will be scrutinized. “The commission must determine whether the objective of imprisonment has been achieved”spokesman for the prison administration, Singabakho Nxumalo, told AFP.
The long procedure, which began more than a year ago, notably included a meeting in 2022 with the parents of the victim. They then said they were shocked by the idea of the release of the murderer of their daughter.
On the night of February 13 to 14, 2013, the South African athlete was in his ultra-secure residence in Pretoria with his partner. Convinced that a burglar has managed to break in, he shoots through the bathroom door. Reeva Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, is killed by four rifle bullets.
Six-time Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius was rich, famous and at the height of fame at the time. A year earlier, he became a legend by lining up with his carbon prostheses alongside the able-bodied in the 400 meters at the London Olympics, a first for a double amputee. « Blade Runner », as he was nicknamed at the time, was arrested in the early morning of February 14. He pleads misunderstanding. Charged with manslaughter, he was sentenced in 2014 to five years in prison at first instance. The former stadium star cries during his trial broadcast live on television.
The prosecution demands a requalification for murder and appeals. Appearing before the judges on his stumps, he then shows himself ” broken “, according to the defense. The world is passionate about the case and the legal saga keeps the media spellbound: the former champion was sentenced to six years in prison for murder in 2016. Barring exceptional circumstances, the minimum sentence for murder in South Africa is fifteen years. The prosecution therefore considers that justice has again been too lenient and is appealing again. In 2017, the Supreme Court of Appeal sentenced Oscar Pistorius to thirteen years and five months in prison.
Reeva Steenkamp’s parents tell the press that their daughter “can finally rest in peace”.
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Dropped by his sponsors, ruined, the stadium idol sells his house to pay his lawyers. He is incarcerated in a prison near Pretoria.
The victim’s mother, June Steenkamp, will be present at the hearing on Friday, Tania Koen, the parents’ lawyer, told AFP. The father, Barry Steenkamp, will not be able to go there for health reasons but the couple will submit their arguments in writing. “Then the law will take its course”, explained the lawyer, without giving more details on the state of mind of Steenkamp. In the event of refusal of conditional release, the detainee may request a review of his request.