Oscar Pistorius to be freed on parole in South Africa after killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Athletics REUTERS

Image caption: The athlete nicknamed 'Blade Runner' was jailed in 2016
REUTERS Image caption: The athlete nicknamed 'Blade Runner' was jailed in 2016

Former Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius is to be freed from jail on parole, nearly 11 years after murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

He shot her multiple times through a bathroom door on Valentine's Day in 2013, later claiming he mistook her for a burglar at their Pretoria home.

Pistorius, now 37, was sentenced by a South African court in 2016 to serve 13 years and five months in prison.

The parole board has set his release for 5 January 2024.

Once released, Pistorius will be monitored by the authorities until his sentence officially expires "just like all other parolees", the Department of Correctional Services said on Friday. If he wants to move house or get a job during that time he will have to notify his parole officer.

Pistorius will also have to attend therapy sessions, according to the Steenkamp family's spokesman.

In a letter read out to the parole board during Friday's hearing, Ms Steenkamp's mother said she did not oppose his release but wondered whether Pistorius's "huge anger issues" were truly dealt with in prison. She added that she would be "concerned for the safety of any woman" who now comes into contact with him.

June Steenkamp chose not to attend the parole hearing at Atteridgeville prison, near Pretoria, saying: "I simply cannot muster the energy to face him again at this stage."

Her husband and Reeva's father, Barry, died earlier this year and she said the strain on them both had been immense.

"My dear Barry left this world utterly devastated by the thought that he had failed to protect his daughter... I've no doubt that he died of a broken heart," Mrs Steenkamp's statement read.

Barry Steenkamp had met Oscar Pistorius face-to-face last year as part of the rehabilitation process.

Mrs Steemkamp says that while she does not believe her daughter's killer has shown remorse, she had nonetheless decided to forgive him "long ago, as I knew most certainly that I would not be able to survive if I had to cling to my anger".

This was Pistorius's second parole hearing in under a year.

His first parole bid collapsed in March because he had not completed the minimum detention period. That was later ruled a mistake by South Africa's Constitutional Court, leading to the new parole hearing.

Under South African law, all offenders are entitled to be considered for parole once they have served half their total sentence.


Image caption: Friends say Reeva Steenkamp was kind-hearted and ambitious

Reeva 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 was more than just a pretty face, she had a beautiful heart and ambition," her friend Kerry Smith told the BBC.

The two women met at university and had planned to start a law firm to help abused women after graduating.

"She wanted to save everyone, wanted to protect everyone," her friend recalls.

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 Pretoria home in the early hours of 14 February 2013.

She died almost instantly.
He was convicted of murder in 2015 at the Supreme Court of Appeal having initially been convicted of the lesser offence of culpable homicide.

Pistorius's lower legs were amputated when he was less than a year old. He subsequently relied on prosthetics and became a world-renowned athlete known as the "blade runner".

He won multiple gold medals at the Paralympics. He also competed against non-disabled athletes at the London 2012 Olympics.

The murder of Reeva Steenkamp just six months later, and the subsequent trials, dominated headlines around the world.