Former Paralympic athlete, Oscar Pistorius, is officially eligible for parole after serving half his sentence for murder. He shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, through a bathroom door in 2013.
Pistorius was only expected to apply for parole in March 2023, but in August this year the Supreme Court of Appeal backdated his sentence to when he was first found guilty of culpable homicide by Judge Thokozile Masipa on 21 October 2014.
Pistorius’ sentence was subsequently overturned and the former athlete was found guilty of murder. Masipa sentenced him to six years imprisonment after the Supreme Court of Appeal challenged her original sentencing for culpable homicide.
He had already served his sentence for culpable homicide and was out on parole.
“It [the State] challenged her decision and subsequently convinced the Supreme Court of Appeal that even if Pistorius had believed Reeva Steenkamp to be an intruder, he was still guilty of murder under the principle of dolus eventualis, in that he must have reasonably foreseen that whoever was behind the toilet door would die,” said News24’s specialist legal journalist Karyn Maughan.
The State then challenged the six year sentence, stating it was “shockingly inappropriate”. It convinced the Supreme Court of Appeal that Pistorius shouldn’t serve less than the full minimum sentence for unpremeditated murder.
“Because he had served over 10 months in prison and, subsequently in correctional supervision, they deducted that period from the 15-year term and he was sentenced to 13 years and five months,” explained Maughan.
This sentencing was, however, determined from the date of his murder conviction in 2016 – which is why, in August this year, the Supreme Court of Appeal backdated it to his original sentencing for culpable homicide in 2014.
“Otherwise, you would have had an entire period, that duration of about 506 days, which effectively counted as a non-parole period. And when you’re looking at getting parole after half your sentence is completed, those kind of variables are very important,” said Maughan.
Part of Pistorius’ parole application will require him to meet with Reeva’s parents in a “victim-offender-dialogue”.
In an exclusive live interview on Good Morning Britain on Monday, the Steenkamps spoke about their feelings around Pistorius being awarded parole and meeting with him in person.
Reeva’s father, Barry Steenkamp, said he’d like to meet with Pistorius “man-to-man” to find out the truth about what actually happened on that fateful night.
June Steenkamp, Reeva’s mother, said although she has forgiven Pistorius she doesn’t feel he has shown remorse and should still have to “pay” for what he did by spending his full sentence behind bars.
A date has not yet been set for this engagement, but the correctional services department told News24 the Steenkamps will be properly prepared for the face-to-face visit with Pistorius, with “social workers, psychologists and a spiritual caregiver”.
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