PRETORIA: South African Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius was denied parole on Friday (March 31) after seeking early release from prison, a decade after he fatally shot his girlfriend, lawyers and authorities said.
The Department of Correctional Services said a parole board found Pistorius had not completed the minimum amount of detention required for his release.
Tania Koen, a lawyer for the victim’s family, told AFP: “At this point we… were informed that it had been denied” and that it would be reviewed in a year’s time.
The motive came as a surprise because correctional services had previously said Pistorius was eligible for early release after serving more than half of his sentence.
Pistorius killed Reeva Steenkamp, a model, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013, shooting four times through the bathroom door of his ultra-secure Pretoria home, in a murder that shocked the world. gender.
A parole hearing opened Friday morning at the prison on the outskirts of the capital where the 36-year-old is being held.
Steenkamp’s parents, who oppose early release, say they do not believe the former athlete told the truth about what happened and have shown no remorse, welcoming the decision.
“While we welcome today’s decision, today is not a reason to celebrate. We miss Reeva immensely and will miss Reeva for the rest of our lives. We believe in justice and hope that it will continue to prevail,” they said in a statement through them. lawyer.
Earlier, Steenkamp’s mother, June, personally presented the couple’s views before the panel that handled the hearing.
“I don’t believe his story,” she told reporters from the back of her car as she arrived at the correctional facility.
Koen later told reporters outside the prison that she had not met her daughter’s killer in person on Friday, because the parole board had decided to try the two separately.
“It was very frustrating for her… but she knew she had to do it for Reeva,” Koen said.
She added that Steenkamp’s father Barry was unable to travel due to ill health but sent a statement.
“Before he died, he had one wish, and that was for Oscar to tell us exactly what happened that night,” Carmen Dodd, who read the statement before the board, told reporters. journalist.
“MINIMUM SAVING TIME”
According to the Department of Correctional Services, consisting of at least three people, including prison services and community members, the panel will determine whether the intent of the incarceration has been fulfilled.
“(The board) has granted inmate Pistorius an additional record for August 2024,” correctional agency spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo said in a statement.
“The reason given was that the prisoner had not completed the Minimum Term of Detention as determined by the Supreme Court of Appeal.”
In a brief memo dated Tuesday and seen by AFP on Friday, the court explained that the prison sentence it imposed began on the day of the final verdict in 2017 and not when Pistorius was first convicted. first in 2014.
Prisoners in South Africa are naturally eligible for parole consideration after serving half of their sentence.
Known worldwide as “Blade Runner” for his carbon fiber prosthetics, Pistorius was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2017 after a lengthy trial and multiple appeals. .
He pleaded not guilty and denied killing Steenkamp in a fit of rage, saying he mistook her for a thief.
Pistorius met with Steenkamp’s parents last year, part of a process that authorities said was aimed at ensuring inmates “acknowledge the harm they have caused to the victim and to society at large”.
Koen described the meeting as “very emotional” and “traumatic”.
A year before killing Steenkamp, Pistorius became the first amputee to compete in a race at the Olympics, competing at the 2012 London Olympics.
He became a household name worldwide and was courted by sponsors, but it all fell apart after the murder.
Prisoners have the right to go to court for review when parole is denied.