Former Paralympic gold medalist and convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius will remain behind bars after a parole board denied his early release on March 31.
The South African authorities revealed that he had not yet served enough time to qualify for early release. Oscar Pistorius, 36, is serving 13 years for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in 2013.
The parole board met to hear evidence, including from Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp’s mother.
However, instead of giving a decision afterwards, embarrassed officials admitted their timings had been wrong.
Earlier this week, they had received, but ignored, a letter from South Africa’s top appeals court, which explained that Oscar Pistorius needed to spend another year and a half in prison before he could be considered for parole.
The hearing at Atteridgeville prison, a low-security facility in rolling fields just outside the city of Pretoria, should never have happened.
For weeks, officials had insisted the amputee former sprinter was eligible to apply for parole, having served half his sentence.
The confusion stems from the fact that Oscar Pistorius’s time in prison has been broken up by appeals and by a period of house arrest.
There is disagreement about where to draw the halfway line.
Oscar Pistorius’s family have expressed dismay and are seeking legal clarification.
It has been an emotional day for the Steenkamp family, who have welcomed the fact that Pistorius will not be yet be freed.
When June Steenkamp, Reeva’s mother, spoke to reporters before the hearing she said she opposed the release of her daughter’s killer: “I don’t believe Oscar is remorseful… or rehabilitated.”
The six-time Paralympic gold medallist has expressed his deep remorse for killing his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day in 2013, but continues to maintain he shot her by mistake, believing she was a robber.
Oscar Pistorius was initially found guilty of culpable homicide and given a six-year term. But prosecutors launched an appeal, arguing this was too lenient.
The sentence was increased to 13 years as he was then convicted of murder.
This verdict was based on the grounds that he must have known his actions – shooting three times through a locked bathroom door in his Pretoria home – would lead to the death of whoever was on the other side.
The televised trial of the man once dubbed “the Blade Runner”, because of the ground-breaking prosthetic legs he wore in both Paralympic and Olympic track races, attracted huge global attention.
According to the Department of Correctional Services in South Africa, Oscar Pistorius will be reconsidered for parole in August 2024.
Oscar Pistorius has been ordered to undergo psychotherapy by a judge-led panel which upheld a decision taken in August to block his release from prison.
The treatment should focus on the factors leading to the crime that he committed, an official statement said.
The convicted South African athlete shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in 2013, saying he mistook her for a burglar.
Oscar Pistorius, now 28, was convicted of culpable homicide, or manslaughter, in 2014.
The double amputee had hoped to be released in August after a parole board ruled that he could serve the rest of his five-year prison sentence under house arrest.
However, South Africa’s Justice Minister Michael Masutha prevented the release, saying the decision had been taken prematurely.
At the time of his intervention, Oscar Pistorius had been granted parole only six months into his five-year sentence.
Michael Masutha argued that the law states that an offender can only be considered for parole after serving one-sixth of his sentence, in this case 10 months.
On October 5, a panel, led by Judge Lucy Mailula, ruled that Michael Masutha had acted correctly.
It said the parole board should again consider Ocar Pistorius’ request to be placed under house arrest, or correctional supervision.
The panel ruled that psychotherapy should be given “even if the offender is, indeed placed under correctional supervision”, the prisons department said in a statement.
Oscar Pistorius should “be subjected to psychotherapy in order to address criminogenic factors of the crime he committed,” it said.
It also ruled that the parole board should consider imposing conditions restricting the use of firearms by the offender, the statement added.
Reeva Steenkamp was killed after he fired multiple shots though a locked door on Valentine’s Day 2013.
High Court Judge Thokozile Masipa acquitted Oscar Pistorius of murder in 2014, saying there was insufficient proof to convict him.
The prosecution has appealed against the acquittal and the case will be heard next month by some of South Africa’s most senior judges.
Oscar Pistorius, who was born without the fibulas in both of his legs, and had surgery to amputate both below the knee while still a baby, went on to become one of South Africa’s best-known sports stars, and was the first amputee to compete against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 London Olympics.
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