Cape Town, South Africa –
Former Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius has applied for parole and will attend a hearing on Friday to decide whether he can be released from prison 10 years after killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp by shooting him multiple times through the bathroom door of his home.
Pistorius, who was convicted of Steenkamp’s 2013 Valentine’s Day murder, could leave Pretoria’s Atteridgeville Correctional Center on Friday if he is granted parole, although the Department of Corrections said the process could take days to complete his application.
Barry and June Steenkamp, Reeva’s parents, have said they oppose Pistorius’ release and are allowed to speak to the parole board at his hearing. The presentation of the victims’ relatives is one of the many factors that are taken into account.
“He’s a killer. She should remain in prison,” Barry Steenkamp said in an interview with Britain’s Daily Mail published last month on the 10th anniversary of his daughter’s murder.
The Department of Corrections declined to provide details about Pistorius’ hearing, saying it was an “internal matter” like any other parole case.
According to the guidelines, the board will consider the crime Pistorius was guilty of, his conduct and disciplinary record while in prison, whether he attended educational or other training courses, his mental and physical condition, and whether he is likely to “reoffend”. and the risk to the public.
Of all the factors, legal expert Neo Mashele said “generally, the behavior of the offender is the most important consideration”.
Pistorius’ parole lawyer, Julian Knight, has previously said Pistorius has been a “model prisoner”. Knight did not respond to requests for comment this week. Not even a lawyer for the Steenkamps.
Pistorius, now 36, was eventually convicted of murder after prosecutors appealed an initial conviction for culpable homicide, which amounts to murder. He was eventually sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison for manslaughter in 2017, again following an appeal by the prosecution against a lighter sentence.
South African offenders convicted of serious crimes must serve half of their sentences before being eligible for parole. Pistorius has done so after taking into account the time he has spent in prison since the end of 2014, while hearing appeals in his case.
The parole board has several options: it could release Pistorius on parole or put him on day parole, where he would be allowed to live and work in the community during the day but return to prison at night. He could also be placed on correctional custody, meaning he would be released, but he would have to spend part of his time in a correctional facility during the week.
Pistorius could be denied parole, where the commission usually asks the offender to reapply at a later date.
Once hailed as an inspirational figure by a double amputee runner and multiple Paralympic champion, Pistorius’ murder trial and fall captivated the world. His crimes eventually landed him in Kgosi Mampuru II maximum security prison, one of the most notorious in South Africa.
Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp arrive at the awards ceremony in Johannesburg in 2012.
(Lucky Nxumalo/Associated Press)
In 2016, he was transferred to Atteridgeville Prison, as the facility is better suited for disabled prisoners. Pistorius had his lower legs amputated as a child and walks with prosthetics.
There have been revelations of his life in prison, with reports that at one point he grew a beard, put on weight and started smoking, making him indistinguishable from the elite athlete who competed in carbon fiber blades. 2012 London Olympics.
He has spent a lot of time working in an area of the prison area where vegetables are planted, sometimes driving a tractor. His father, Henke Pistorius, said in a 2018 interview that he was giving Bible classes to other prisoners.
There have also been problems. Pistorius suffered an injury during an altercation with another inmate over a payphone in 2017. A year earlier, Pistorius had received treatment for wrist injuries, and his family denied that he had harmed himself.
Pistorius has been seeking parole since 2021, but that year’s trial was canceled in part because he had not yet met with Barry and June Steenkamp in a process known as a victim-offender interview. In South Africa a meeting is required—if victims or their families want it—before an offender can be considered for parole.
Pistorius says he mistakenly shot Steenkamp, 29, with his licensed 9mm pistol because he thought he was a dangerous intruder. He met his father face-to-face last year at a meeting where Barry Steenkamp convinced Pistorius not to be released, he said in the Daily Mail interview.
“I told Oscar directly that he shot my daughter on purpose and he denied it,” Steenkamp said. “He stuck to his story that he thought it was an intruder. After all these years we are still waiting for him to admit that he was angry. That’s all we wanted.”
“If he was telling the truth,” Steenkamp said, “I would let the law take its course on his parole.”