Double-amputee Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius was granted parole Friday, 10 years after shooting his girlfriend through a bathroom door at his home in South Africa in a killing that jolted the country and the athletics world.
Department of Corrections spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said Pistorius would be released from prison on Jan. 5. His parole will come with conditions, including that he not leave the area of Pretoria where he is set to live without permission from authorities. Pistorius will also attend a program to deal with his anger issues, Nxumalo said, and will have to perform community service.
Pistorius’s parole conditions will be in place for five years, the Department of Corrections said.
“Parole does not mean the end of the sentence. It is still part of the sentence. It only means the inmate will complete the sentence outside a correctional facility,” Nxumalo said.
Pistorius, who turned 37 this week, has been in jail since late 2014 for the Valentine’s Day 2013 killing of model Reeva Steenkamp, although he was released for a period of house arrest in 2015 while one of the numerous appeals in his case was heard.
He was originally sentenced to about six years on a charge of culpable homicide, but that ruling was characterized as “shockingly lenient” and more than doubled to 13 years and five months by South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal.
Pistorius shot Steenkamp multiple times in the bathroom of his Pretoria villa in the predawn hours with his licensed 9-mm pistol. He claimed he mistook the 29-year-old model and reality TV star for an intruder
Serious offenders in South Africa must serve at least half of their sentence to be eligible for parole, which Pistorius has done.
‘I do not believe Oscar’s version’: Steenkamp’s mother
Rob Matthews, a South African man whose 21-year-old daughter was murdered in 2004 and who became a Steenkamp family friend, read out a statement from June Steenkamp, the victim’s mother, in which she said she was not opposing his parole and didn’t attend the hearing because “I simply cannot muster the energy to face him again at this stage.”
“I do not believe Oscar’s version that he thought the person in the toilet was a burglar,” June Steenkamp said in the statement. “In fact, I do not know anybody who does. My dearest child screamed for her life. … I believe he knew it was Reeva.”
The victim’s father, Barry Steenkamp, died in September at age 80.
Barry Steenkamp met face-to-face with Pistorius last year as part of a program in South Africa that gives victims of crime or their families a chance to confront offenders who have applied for parole. At that meeting, he said he urged Pistorius to confess that he had intentionally shot Reeva in rage after an argument.
Pistorius was at the height of his fame and one of the world’s most admired athletes when he killed Steenkamp.
He had won six Paralympic gold medals and became the first double amputee participant at the Summer Olympics, at the London Games in 2012. He was born without fibulas, with both legs amputated below the knees when he was just months old.
At his sensational trial, prosecutors argued there was another side to Pistorius’ life that involved guns and angry confrontations with others. Pistorius was also found guilty of a second charge of recklessly firing a gun in a restaurant.