Oscar Pistorius, a world-famous double-amputee athlete who broke barriers by competing on carbon-fibre running blades at the 2012 London Olympics, has been in prison since late 2014 for the death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
By Associated Press
Last Updated: 21/11/23 2:15pm
Oscar Pistorius will have a second chance at parole at a hearing on Friday after he was wrongly ruled ineligible for early release from prison in March.
South Africa’s department of corrections said in a statement a parole board will consider the former Olympic runner’s case again this week and decide “whether the inmate is suitable or not for social integration”.
Pistorius, a world-famous double-amputee athlete who broke barriers by competing on carbon-fibre running blades at the 2012 London Olympics, has been in prison since late 2014 for the death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
He was initially convicted of culpable homicide, an offence comparable to manslaughter, for shooting Steenkamp multiple times through a closed toilet cubicle door in his home in the South African capital, Pretoria, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013.
His conviction was upgraded to murder and he was ultimately sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison after a series of appeals by prosecutors. Serious offenders in South Africa must serve at least half their sentence before they are eligible for parole.
Pistorius’ case and his parole eligibility have been complicated by those appeals by prosecutors, who first challenged his culpable homicide conviction and then a sentence of six years for murder, which they called shockingly lenient.
The Supreme Court of Appeal eventually ruled in 2017 Pistorius should serve South Africa’s minimum sentence of 15 years for murder, but took into account the year and seven months he had already served for culpable homicide when it delivered the 13 years and five months sentence.
However, the court made an error by not counting another period Pistorius had served while his murder sentence was being appealed, meaning he was in fact eligible for parole in March when he was told at his first hearing he would only be eligible in August 2024.
Pistorius’ lawyers took his case to the country’s apex Constitutional Court. The decision to give Pistorius another parole hearing on Friday is effectively an admission of the appeal court’s error.
Pistorius is not guaranteed to be granted early release. A parole board takes a number of factors into account, including his conduct and disciplinary record in prison, his mental health and the likelihood of him committing another crime.
He could be released on full parole or placed on day parole, where he would be allowed to live and work in the community but have to return to prison at night.
Pistorius was once one of the world’s most admired athletes. Born with a congenital condition that led to his legs being amputated below the knee when he was a baby, he took up track and won multiple Paralympic titles on his running blades. He is the only double amputee to run at the Olympics.