-By Bhargava Acharya
PRETORIA (Reuters) – South African former Paralympic star oscar pistorius The man was released on parole on Friday, nearly 11 years after he murdered his girlfriend in a crime that shocked a country long plagued by violence against women.
Pistorius – known as the “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fibre prosthetic legs – shot the 29-year-old model reeva steenkamp He died from a closed bathroom door on Valentine’s Day in 2013.
He has repeatedly said that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he fired four shots at Steenkamp in the bathroom of his Pretoria home, and he has lodged several appeals against his conviction on this basis.
“The Department of Correctional Services is able to confirm that Oscar Pistorius is on parole with effect from January 5, 2024. He was admitted to the community corrections system and is now at home,” the country’s prisons department said in a statement. “
Pistorius, now 37, spent almost eight and a half years in prison as well as seven months under house arrest before being sentenced for murder. In November a parole board decided he could be released after serving more than half his sentence.
In a statement shared by the Steenkamp family attorney on Friday, Reeva’s mother June said: “There can never be justice if your loved one is never coming back, and no amount of time will bring Reeva back. will bring.”
June Steenkamp said, “We, who are left behind, are serving a life sentence.” He said his only wish was to allow Pistorius to live in peace after his release on parole.
He will be monitored by a surveillance officer until his sentence ends in December 2029, who will have to inform Pistorius if he seeks job opportunities or moves to a new address.
The Steenkamp family have said that as part of his parole conditions he is also required to continue therapy on anger management and attend sessions on gender-based violence.
June Steenkamp said the conditions imposed by the Parole Board reaffirmed her confidence in the South African justice system because they send a clear message that gender-based violence is taken seriously.
A lawyer for Pistorius did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his release on Friday.
Local media expect him to stay at the home of his uncle Arnold Pistorius in a wealthy suburb of Pretoria.
South Africans have had mixed reactions to his release, with some believing he has served his time, while others consider his sentence too lenient.
“He paid his price. Let him rebuild his life,” a local resident told reporters gathered outside his uncle’s house on Friday morning.
From Paralympic star to convicted murderer
Pistorius was once a sporting darling and a leading voice for disabled athletes, for whom he campaigned to be allowed to compete alongside able-bodied participants in major sporting events.
In August 2012, a few months before his girlfriend was shot, Pistorius became the first double amputee to compete at the London Olympics, where he made the 400 meters semi-finals.
He won two gold medals in the Paralympics.
He was first jailed for five years for culpable homicide by a high court in October 2014. After his prosecutors appealed that verdict, the Supreme Court of Appeal found him guilty of murder in December 2015. But despite the prosecution’s argument for a minimum sentence of 15 years, he received only six years at his sentencing in July 2016.
Then in November 2017 the Supreme Court of Appeal more than doubled his sentence to 13 years and five months, describing his first term as “shockingly lenient”.
Pistorius met with Reeva’s father Barry Steenkamp in 2022 at a “victim-offender dialogue”, which is an integral part of South Africa’s restorative justice system.
Partly based on how indigenous cultures handled crime long before Europeans colonized South Africa, restorative justice aims to provide closure to the affected parties in the crime rather than merely punishing the perpetrators.
He was initially denied parole in March. However, the Constitutional Court later ruled that he had served half his sentence by 21 March and was eligible for parole, as the date was July 2016 instead of November 2017 when he was first sentenced for murder. .
(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya, Shafiq Taseem, Siphiwe Sibeko, Siyabonga Sishi and Thando Hlophe; Writing by Anait Miridzhanian; Editing by Tim Cox, Gareth Jones, Alexander Winning and Sri Navaratnam)