South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius could be considered for parole, after serving half his sentence for murdering his girlfriend, according to AFP. Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp dead in 2013 on Valentine’s Day when he fired four times through the door of his bedroom toilet.
He was first convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in jail. But in 2015, he was found guilty of murder on appeal and the sentence was later increased to 13 years and five months. The double-amputee athlete also known as The Blade Runner has insisted that he shot his girlfriend through the bathroom door thinking she was an intruder.
After serving half the sentence, which is the minimum period to be considered for parole, South Africa’s department of correctional services was scheduled to hold preliminary talks with Steenkamp’s parents. However, the meeting was postponed and a new date is yet to be made known.
Prisons spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo told AFP that the department needs to conduct dialogue with the victim’s family and the offender before the parole process can start. “There is the issue of victim-offender dialogue that needs to take place before his profile can be taken to the parole board,” Nxumalo said. “It’s quite a sensitive and emotional process.”
Tania Koen, the lawyer for the Steenkamp family, told SABC that they “would like to participate in the victim-offender dialogue”.
“June [Steenkamp, Reeva’s mother] has always said that she has forgiven Oscar, however that doesn’t mean that he mustn’t pay for what he has done.
“Barry [Steenkamp, Reeva’s father] battles with that a bit, but that is something he will have to voice at the appropriate time,” Koen said.
The Steenkamps’ lawyer told AFP that the parole board had been due to discuss the paralympic athlete’s parole on October 27 or 29. However, certain requirements were not met so the process was stopped. Koen said the board will have to make sure they have the necessary reports including psychologist and social worker reports, AFP reported.
“He has been eligible for parole since July of this year,” said the lawyer, “but that does not mean he has automatic right to be released on parole.”
Before the murder, Pistorius was admired by many after he made history in 2012 as the first amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics running on prosthetic “blades”. Born without fibula bones, his legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old.
If granted parole, the 34-year-old would serve the remainder of his sentence at home and must report to prison officials regularly, according to BBC.