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Paralympian and murderer Pistorius freed on parole

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has been freed on parole from a South African jail, nearly 11 years after murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Officials confirmed Pistorius was “at home” on Friday morning, having served half of his more than 13-year sentence.

Channel 1

Ms Steenkamp’s mother said she accepted the decision to release the former athlete – but added her family was the one “serving a life sentence”.

In 2012, Pistorius became the first double amputee to run in the Olympics.

Just six months later, he shot Ms Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet door in his house. The shooting and subsequent trials gripped South Africa and the world.

Pistorius, now 37, later claimed he had mistaken her for a burglar during the night.

Pistorius was eventually convicted of murder in 2015 after an appeal court overturned an earlier verdict of culpable homicide – or manslaughter.

Parole conditions

Under South African law, all offenders are entitled to be considered for parole, meaning early release under certain conditions, once they have served half their total sentence, which for Pistorius was finally set at 13 years and five months.

Until his sentence expires in 2029, he will live under strict rules – confining him to the home for certain hours of the day, as well as banning him from drinking alcohol. He is also not permitted to speak to the media.

In addition, Pistorius will be required to have therapy to help deal with issues around gender-based violence and anger.

He is believed to have gone to live at the home of his uncle Arnold Pistorius in an upmarket suburb of the capital, Pretoria.

While in prison, Pistorius drove a tractor in the grounds, worked in the library and cleaned inmates’ cells, according to legal documents cited by South African journalist Karyn Maughan.

Social workers and psychologists also wrote positive reports about him, she told the BBC’s Newsday programme.

Ms Steenkamp’s mother, June, said in a statement that the family had “always known that parole is part of the South African legal system” and had “always said that the law must take its course”.

Mrs Steenkamp said she welcomed the conditions imposed by the parole board, which “affirmed Barry and my belief in the South African justice system,” referring to her late husband.

But, she asked: “Has there been justice for Reeva? Has Oscar served enough time? There can never be justice if your loved one is never coming back, and no amount of time served will bring Reeva back. We, who remain behind, are the ones serving a life sentence.”

She added: “My only desire is that I will be allowed to live my last years in peace with my focus remaining on the Reeva Rebecca Steenkamp Foundation, to continue Reeva’s legacy.”

Pistorius first went to prison in October 2014, shortly after his initial conviction. There was a period between 2015 and 2016 when he was released under house arrest before his conviction was changed and sentence lengthened.

Pistorius’s lower legs were amputated when he was less than a year old due to a congenital condition – he was born with no fibulas, the smaller of the two lower leg bones. He subsequently relied on prosthetics and became a world-renowned athlete known as the “Blade Runner”.

He had a successful career on the track, first at the Paralympics, winning multiple golds, and then cementing his reputation after competing against non-disabled athletes at the London Olympics in 2012.

South Africa’s department of correctional services said that despite his high public profile, the former star would be treated like anyone else on parole.

Ms Steenkamp, who was 29 when she died, was a law graduate and successful model who also worked as a TV presenter and appeared in a reality show called Tropika Island of Treasure.

She had planned to start a law firm to help abused women after graduating.

Ms Steenkamp was three months into her relationship with Pistorius when he fired four shots with a pistol through the door of a toilet cubicle at his house in Pretoria in the early hours of 14 February 2013.

She died almost instantly.

The state charged Pistorius with murder but he was convicted in 2014 of the lesser offence of culpable homicide, or manslaughter.

The following year, judges at the Supreme Court of Appeal changed his conviction to murder, saying that his version of events was inconsistent and improbable and that he had “fired without having a rational or genuine fear that his life was in danger”.

The trials of Oscar Pistorius

  • August 2012:Competes in London Olympics and Paralympics, where he won a gold medal
  • February 2013:Shoots dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
  • March 2014:Trial begins
  • September 2014:Judge finds Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide
  • October 2014:Begins five-year sentence
  • October 2015:Transferred to house arrest
  • December 2015:Appeal court changes verdict to murder
  • July 2016:Returns to prison after being sentenced to six years for murder
  • November 2017:Appeal court increases sentence to 13 years and five months
  • June 2022:Meets Ms Steenkamp’s father, Barry, as part of a restorative justice programme
  • November 2023:Parole board agrees Pistorius should be released
  • January 2024: Freed from prison under parole conditions

 

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