Former South African Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius was released on parole this Friday (5), almost 11 years after murdering his girlfriend in a crime that shocked a nation long accustomed to violence against women.
Pistorius – nicknamed “Blade Runner” for his carbon fiber prosthetic legs – shot and killed 29-year-old model Reeva Steenkamp through a locked bathroom door on Valentine’s Day 2013.
He has repeatedly claimed that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he fired four shots into the bathroom of his Pretoria home, and has launched multiple appeals against his conviction on that basis.
“The Department of Correctional Services can confirm that Oscar Pistorius is a conditional release, effective January 5, 2024. He has been admitted to the Community Corrections system and is now at home,” the country’s prisons department said in a statement. communicated.
In a statement released by the Steenkam family lawyer, Reeva’s mother June said: “There can never be justice if your loved one never returns, and no amount of prison time will bring Reeva back.”
“We who are left behind are the ones serving life sentences,” said June Steenkamp, adding that her only wish was to be able to live in peace after Pistorius was released on parole.
Pistorius, now 37, spent around eight and a half years in prison, as well as seven months under house arrest before being convicted of murder. A parole board ruled in November that he could be released after serving more than half of his sentence.
A monitoring officer will watch him until the end of his sentence in December 2029, and Pistorius will have to report whether he seeks employment opportunities or changes address.
He is also required to continue anger management therapy and attend sessions on gender-based violence as part of his probation conditions, the Steenkamp family said.
June Steenkamp said the conditions imposed by the parole board confirmed her belief in the South African justice system as it sent a clear message that gender-based violence was taken seriously.
But a local women’s rights organization said the Pistorius case shows there is a lack of accountability for perpetrators and inadequate justice for victims of violence in the country.
“We are talking about someone’s life being taken away… The fact that someone can walk free eight years later tells us that it is no big deal,” Women For Change spokeswoman Bulelwa Adonis told Reuters.
Adonis said that, on average, 12 women are murdered in South Africa every day.
While some South Africans consider Pistorius’ punishment to be lenient, others feel he has served his sentence.
“Let the man go home, he has served his sentence, and remember, it is also about being reintegrated into society,” said Kefentse Botolo, 42, a resident of Pretoria.
Local media expect Pistorius to live at his uncle Arnold’s house in an affluent Pretoria suburb, where a crowd of reporters gathered outside the gate on Friday.
His attorney did not immediately respond to messages or phone calls seeking comment.
FROM PARALYMPIC STAR TO CONVICTED KILLER
Pistorius was once the darling of the sports world and a pioneering voice for athletes with disabilities, for whom he campaigned to be able to compete among able-bodied athletes at major sporting events.
In August 2012, months before shooting his girlfriend, Pistorius became the first double amputee to compete at the London Olympics, where he reached the semi-finals of the 400 meters.
He won two gold medals at the Paralympics.
He was first jailed for five years in October 2014, convicted of manslaughter. After his prosecutors appealed that decision, the Supreme Court of Appeal found him guilty of murder in December 2015.
But he only got six years when he was sentenced in July 2016, despite prosecutors arguing for a minimum sentence of 15 years.
Then, in November 2017, the Supreme Court of Appeal more than doubled his sentence to 13 years and five months, describing his previous sentence as “shockingly lenient”.
Pistorius met Reeva’s father, Barry Steenkamp, in 2022 at a “victim-offender dialogue”, an integral part of South Africa’s restorative justice system.
Based, in part, on the way cultures have dealt with crime long before Europeans colonized South Africa, restorative justice aims to find closure for the affected parties in a crime, rather than merely punishing the perpetrators.