Oscar Pistorius released from prison on parole, authorities say


PRETORIA, South Africa — South African athlete Oscar Pistorius has been paroled from prison and is now at home, South Africa’s Department of Corrections said Friday.

The department did not provide further details about Pistorius’ release. The announcement came at around 8:30 a.m. local time, indicating that prison officials had released the world-famous double-amputee Olympic runner from Atteridgeville Correctional Center in the South African capital, Pretoria, in the early hours.

Pistorius served nearly nine years of his 13-year, five-month murder sentence for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013. He was approved for parole in November.

Serious criminals in South Africa can be paroled after serving at least half of their sentence.

The Department of Corrections said in a two-sentence statement announcing Pistorius’ release that it “was able to confirm that Oscar Pistorius is on parole, effective January 5, 2024. He was admitted to the Community Corrections system and is now home.” “. “

Pistorius was initially expected to live at his uncle’s mansion in the exclusive Pretoria suburb of Waterkloof, and a police van was seen parked outside that house.

Department of Corrections officials had said Pistorius’ release time would not be announced in advance and that he would not be “paraded” because they hoped to keep him away from the media glare that has dogged him since he shot Steenkamp multiple times across of a bathroom door in his house in the early morning of February 14, 2013.

He will live under strict conditions of probation until the remainder of his sentence expires in December 2029.

Steenkamp’s mother, June Steenkamp, ​​said in a statement on Friday that she had agreed to Pistorius’ parole as part of South African law.

“Has there been justice for Reeva? Has Oscar served enough time? There can never be justice if your loved one never returns, and no amount of time served will bring Reeva back,” June Steenkamp said. “Those of us who stayed behind are the ones who served life sentences.”

“With the release of Oscar Pistorius on parole, my only wish is that I be allowed to live out my final years in peace and that my focus remains on the Reeva Rebecca Steenkamp Foundation, to carry on Reeva’s legacy.”

The Department of Corrections has emphasized that the release of the multiple Paralympic champion, like any other criminal on parole, does not mean that he has served his sentence.

Some of Pistorius’ parole conditions include restrictions on when he is allowed to leave his home, a ban on consuming alcohol and orders that he must attend programs on anger management and violence against women. He will have to perform community service.

Pistorius will also have to meet regularly with probation officials at his home and at correctional services offices and will be subject to unannounced visits from authorities. He is not allowed to leave the Waterkloof district without permission and is prohibited from speaking to the media until the end of his sentence. He could be sent back to prison if he violates any of the conditions of his probation.

South Africa does not use tags or bracelets on paroled offenders, so Pistorius will not wear any tracking devices, Department of Corrections officials said. But he will be constantly monitored by a department official and will have to inform you of any major changes in his life, such as whether he wants to get a job or move to another house.

Pistorius has maintained that he mistakenly shot Steenkamp, ​​a 29-year-old model and law graduate. He testified that he believed Steenkamp was a dangerous intruder hiding in her bathroom and fired through the door with her authorized 9mm pistol in self-defense.

Prosecutors said he intentionally killed his girlfriend during a late-night argument.

Steenkamp’s family did not oppose his parole application in November, although June Steenkamp said in a victim statement submitted to the parole board that she did not believe Pistorius had been fully rehabilitated and that he continued to lie about the murder.

Before the murder, Pistorius was considered an inspirational role model after both of his legs were amputated below the knee as a baby due to a congenital condition. He became a champion sprinter with his carbon fiber paddles and made history by competing in the 2012 London Olympics.

But his murder trial destroyed his image. He was accused of being prone to angry outbursts and acting recklessly with weapons, while witnesses testified about several altercations he had with other people, including an argument in which he allegedly threatened to break a man’s legs.

Pistorius was first convicted of manslaughter (a charge comparable to involuntary manslaughter) and sentenced to five years in prison for killing Steenkamp. After appeals from prosecutors, he was eventually found guilty of murder and had his sentence increased, although the Supreme Court of Appeal ruling still did not definitively rule that he knew it was Steenkamp behind the bathroom door.

Pistorius was first sent to prison in 2014, was released to house arrest in 2015 during an appeal and was sent to prison again in 2016. He was initially imprisoned at the Kgosi Mampuru II maximum security prison in Pretoria, but was moved to Atteridgeville early in his life. sentence because it is more suitable for holding disabled prisoners.

Reaction to Pistorius’ parole has been muted in South Africa, a stark contrast to the first days and months after Steenkamp’s murder, which sparked angry protests outside Pistorius’ court hearings calling for him to receive a long prison sentence. . There is no death penalty in South Africa.

“It has ticked all the right boxes,” said Themba Masango, secretary general of Not In My Name International, a group that campaigns against violence against women. “And we can only hope and hope that Oscar Pistorius is a better human being.”

“We tend to forget that there is a possibility that someone can be rehabilitated.”

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