Oscar Pistorius granted parole a decade after killing girlfriend

The South African Paralympic star, jailed in 2014 for killing Reeva Steenkamp, will be released in January.

Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius leaves court
Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius leaves after a 2016 hearing at North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa [File: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

South African Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius, jailed in 2014 for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, has been granted parole effective from January 5, the Department of Correctional Services says.

Known as the “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fibre prosthetic legs, Pistorius went from a public hero as a Paralympic champion to a convicted killer in hearings that caught the world’s attention a decade ago.

Pistorius, who turned 37 this week, shot and killed Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013.

He was initially jailed for five years in 2014 for culpable homicide by a high court, but the Supreme Court of Appeal in late 2015 found him guilty of murder after an appeal by prosecutors.

He was sent back to jail for six years in 2016, less than half the 15-year minimum term sought by prosecutors.

In 2017, the Supreme Court more than doubled his sentence to 13 years and five months, saying the six-year jail term was “shockingly lenient”.

The hearing held on Friday at a correctional centre outside Pretoria, where he is currently detained, was Pistorius’s second shot at parole in less than eight months.

He lost a first bid in March when the board found Pistorius had not completed the minimum detention period required to be let out.

The Constitutional Court last month ruled that was a mistake, paving the way for a new hearing.

Pistorius was at the height of his fame and one of the world’s most admired athletes when he killed Steenkamp.

He shot her multiple times in the bathroom of his Pretoria villa in the predawn hours with his licensed 9mm pistol.

He had pleaded not guilty and denied killing Steenkamp in a rage, saying he mistook her for a burglar.

Earlier, Steenkamp’s mother told the parole hearing that she did not believe Pistorius was rehabilitated because he had not shown true remorse.

“Rehabilitation requires someone to engage honestly with the full truth of his crime and the consequences thereof. Nobody can claim to have remorse if they’re not able to engage fully with the truth,” June Steenkamp said in a statement to the board.

“I do not believe Oscar’s version,” she said in her submission to the board, which was read to the media outside the detention centre by a family spokesman.

“My dear child screamed for her life loud enough for the neighbours to hear her. I do not know what gave rise to his choice to shoot through a closed door four times at somebody with hollow-point ammunition when I believe he knew it was Reeva.”

But her spokesman told the board she was not opposing parole for Pistorius, and she said she forgave the sprinter “long ago as I knew most certainly that I would not be able to survive if I had to cling to my anger”.

As part of his rehabilitation, Pistorius met Steenkamp’s parents last year in a process authorities said aims to ensure inmates “acknowledge the harm they have caused”.

June Steenkamp was not present at the parole hearing on Friday and was represented by a family spokesman and a lawyer.

Steenkamp’s father, Barry, died in September aged 80.

“I’ve no doubt that he died of a broken heart,” the widow said in her statement.

Source: News Agencies