Former South African Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius, imprisoned in 2016 for the murder of his girlfriend Riva Steenkamp, has been denied parole, South African prison authorities and a lawyer for the victim’s family have said.
Once a darling of the Paralympic movement who sought greater recognition and acceptance of athletes with disabilities,model and law student, in her bathroom on February 14 – Valentine’s Day – in 2013.
Known as the “Blade Runner” for his carbon fiber prosthetic legs, the athlete went from public hero to convicted murderer in a trial that sparked worldwide interest.
He was jailed in 2016, but that sentence was increased to 13 years after an appeal by prosecutors who argued that it was too lenient.
The Department of Corrections said in a statement Friday that Pistorius, 36, has not served the minimum detention period required to consider parole.
“In August 2024, he would have reached the minimum detention period, after which the parole board will make a decision,” Singabaho Nxumalo prison spokesman said at a media briefing.
“Next year he will have to come again. And then we look at the profile and decide on its placement. But so far it was about saying that he had not served the minimum term of detention.”
The Steenkamp family opposed the proposal, their lawyer Tanya Cohen told Reuters.
“I just got a call from the parole board. It’s a huge sense of relief for June,” she said, referring to Riva’s mother.
Riva Steenkamp’s mother, June, attended Oscar Pistorius’s parole hearing on Friday. Source: AP / Frans Sello Waga Machate
June Steenkamp previously said she was nervous when she arrived at the Utteridgeville prison near the capital Pretoria for a closed hearing.
“While we applaud today’s decision, today is not something to celebrate,” Ms Cohen said on behalf of Riva’s parents.
“We miss Riva terribly and will miss her for the rest of our lives. We believe in justice and hope that it will continue to prevail.”
Pistorius’ lawyer Julian Knight previously told Reuters that Pistorius was due to appear before a parole board to answer questions based on Mr. Knight’s written statement advocating his client’s release.
Mr. Knight said he does not expect a decision on Friday. He was unavailable for comment after Pistorius was denied parole.
Oscar Pistorius (right) shot and killed his girlfriend Riva Steenkamp (left) on Valentine’s Day in 2013. Source: AP / Lucky Nxumalo
The basis for his argument in favor of considering parole for Pistorius was that “there appears to be no negative factor preventing him from being released on parole because he meets the department’s requirements in terms of their policies and procedures.”
Pistorius, a firearms enthusiast, testified in court that he thought Ms. Stenkamp was an intruder when he shot her multiple times through the bathroom door with bullets designed to cause maximum damage to the human body.
He met Steenkamp’s father, Barry, last year while participating in a process known as victim-offender dialogue, part of South Africa’s restorative justice program that brings together victims of crime to try to get a case closed.
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