Oscar Pistorius parole hearing: Reeva Steenkamp’s ‘nervous’ mother will be in court ‘to see her daughter gets justice’ as the Blade Runner finds out TODAY if he will be released early from jail
- Oscar Pistorius shot dead Reeva Steenkamp at home on Valentine’s Day 2013
- Ms Steenkamp’s mother said it will be ‘very hard to be in the same room’ as killer
Oscar Pistorius will find out today whether he will be released from prison early, a decade after he killed his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp – whose mother will address the parole hearing and feels he should remain in jail.
Former Olympic and Paralympic athlete Pistorius shot dead Ms Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013, firing four times through the bathroom door of his Pretoria house, in a killing that shocked the world.
Pistorius was found guilty of murder and given a 13-year jail sentence in 2017 after a lengthy trial, several appeals and a previous six-year sentence, which prosecutors described as ‘shockingly lenient’.
He is now eligible for parole, and a board is scheduled to convene today at 10.00 am (08.00 GMT) at the correctional facility where the now 36-year-old is being held on the outskirts of Pretoria.
Ms Steenkamp’s mother, June, arrived shortly before 11.00am to ‘make representations’ on behalf of herself and her husband, Barry, who is unable to travel due to ill health, Tania Koen, a lawyer for the family said.
Oscar Pistorius will find out today whether he will be released from prison early, a decade after he killed his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp
The high profile case gripped the world as the famous South African athlete had just a year earlier been the first double amputee to compete in an able-bodied Olympics, while Ms Steenkamp was a successful model and TV star
The South African athlete, nicknamed Blade Runner after his racing prosthetics, had been a widely-celebrated Paralympian prior to the killing
Speaking to reporters outside, June said she was ‘very nervous’ and that it was ‘very hard to be in the same room’ as her beloved daughter’s killer.
The Steenkamp family’s lawyer, Ms Koen, said: ‘It’s a very traumatic experience, as you can imagine.
‘It’s painful June has to face Oscar Pistorius again this morning. He is the killer of their daughter, for them, it’s a life sentence.’
Ms Steenkamp’s parents, who oppose the idea of their daughter’s killer’s release, have no power to block it as criminals are automatically eligible for parole after serving half of their sentence.
‘They don’t feel that he should be released, they feel he has shown no remorse and he’s not rehabilitated, because if he had been he would have come clean and told the true story of what happened that night.’
‘They have no expectations,’ Koen earlier told AFP of the Steenkamps ahead of the hearing. ‘The law must take its course’.
Comprising at least three people, including prison services and community members, the board is to determine whether the purpose of imprisonment has been served, according to the Department of Correctional Services.
He had pleaded not guilty and denied that he killed Steenkamp in a rage, saying he mistook her for a burglar.
In June last year Pistorius agreed to meet the Steenkamps in prison, as part of South Africa’s victim-offender dialogue programme
READ MORE: Who was Reeva Steenkamp? Devout Christian model, law graduate and campaigner
Offenders in South Africa are automatically eligible for parole consideration after serving half of their sentence.
Pistorius has served more than half, having started his term in 2014.
Pistorius could leave Atteridgeville Correctional Centre in Pretoria as early as today if his parole is granted.
His lawyer Julian Knight said he would not comment until after a decision on the parole was made.
Pistorius met Steenkamp’s parents last year, in a process authorities said aims to ensure inmates ‘acknowledge the harm they have caused to their victims and the society at large’.
The board will consider whether Pistorius has been rehabilitated or still poses a danger to society, as well as his conduct in prison, according to the correctional services.
The hearing will be closed to the media.
The case was particularly high profile as the famous South African athlete had just a year earlier been the first double amputee to compete in an able-bodied Olympics, while Ms Steenkamp was a successful model and TV star.
After taking part in London 2012, Pistorius was then was a sporting icon admired worldwide and courted by sponsors.
But it all came crashing down after the killing.
Parole decisions are usually known the same day of the hearing or a day later, but the correctional services department has suggested that in Pistorius’s case the decision may not be taken on the same day.
If denied, the offender has the right to approach the courts for review.
Timeline of events in the Oscar Pistorius murder case
February 14, 2013: Police arrest the Olympic and Paralympic sprinter for killing Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, who was shot four times at his Pretoria home.
February 15: Pistorius bursts into tears as he is charged, denying murder ‘in the strongest terms’.
February 19: Pistorius claims in an affidavit he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder. He said he fired through a locked bathroom door, in what prosecutors term ‘premeditated’ murder.
February 21: Global sportswear manufacturer Nike suspends its sponsorship contract with the athlete.
February 22: Pistorius is granted bail.
On Valentine’s Day, Pistorius fired four shots through the door of a locked bathroom at his home in Pretoria. Reeva was on the other side
The trial begins
March 3, 2014: The trial opens in Pretoria before crowds of journalists from around the world, with the testimony of a neighbour who tells the court she heard ‘terrible screams’ from a woman. Ten days later, Pistorius vomits when a picture of Steenkamp’s body is flashed on the court’s television screens.
April 7-15: Pistorius takes the stand and begins with a tearful apology to Steenkamp’s family. This is followed by five days of often intense cross-examination, marked by bouts of tears and breaks in the session. Pistorius steadfastly denies any intention to kill Steenkamp.
June 30: After a six-week break, a panel of three psychiatrists and a psychologist conclude Pistorius does not suffer from mental illness.
September 12: Judge Thokozile Masipa finds Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide or manslaughter.
October 21: The judge sentences him to a maximum of five years in jail. He is taken to Pretoria prison.
Under house arrest
October 20, 2015: Pistorius is allowed out of prison after just one year to spend the remainder of his sentence under house arrest.
December 3: The Supreme Court of Appeal convicts him of murder, saying his testimony was ‘vacillating and untruthful’.
December 8: Pistorius is released on bail pending sentencing, and remains under house arrest.
‘Shockingly lenient’ sentence
March 2, 2016: Pistorius, now 29, loses his final bid to appeal his murder conviction.
July 6: He is sentenced to six years in jail for murder.
August 14: South African media reports say Pistorius is put on 24-hour suicide watch.
September 15: Prosecutors say they will petition the Supreme Court of Appeal for a tougher sentence for Pistorius, having described the six-year term as ‘shockingly lenient’.
November 14: Prison authorities say Pistorius has been transferred to a prison adapted for disabled inmates just outside Pretoria to serve the rest of his sentence.
Jail term extended
November 3, 2017: The appeal court adjourns to consider its ruling after prosecutors argue that Pistorius’s jail term is too short, while defence lawyers say the judge handed down a fair sentence.
November 24: The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein more than doubles Pistorius’s sentence of six years to 13 years and five months.
March 28, 2018: South Africa’s highest court rejects Pistorius’s leave to appeal, ending the long legal battle over the killing.
November 29, 2021: Prison services say Pistorius has been temporarily moved to a detention facility in the southern city of Gqeberha, formerly Port Elizabeth, as part of his parole process, having become eligible for early release a few months earlier, after serving half his sentence.
July 1, 2022: Prison services say Pistorius has met with Steenkamp’s parents as part of his rehabilitation process.
March 31, 2023: A parole board is called to decide on whether the 36-year-old former athlete should be released early.
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