Eko Hot Blog reports that Former South African Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius, serving a prison sentence for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, might not be released immediately, even if granted parole in an upcoming review.
The National Parole Board plans to review his case on Friday, November 24, 2023. However, according to the Steenkamp family’s lawyer, Tania Koen, the process might be longer than expected. Koen noted that even with parole granted, the Department of Corrections (DCS) follows an internal procedure that usually takes up to a month.
Legal experts interviewed by AFP highlighted the variability in the time between parole grant and actual prisoner release, with some suggesting it could hinge on “political will.” Pistorius, who has been serving his sentence since late 2014, faced rejection in his first early release application in March due to not meeting the minimum detention period required.
In South Africa, early release eligibility kicks in after half the sentence is served. Pistorius’ multiple appeals against his initial conviction complicated this timeline, prompting authorities to base their count on his last sentence. However, the Constitutional Court recently ruled that the count should start when Pistorius first went to prison.
Pistorius, turning 37, was convicted of murdering 29-year-old Steenkamp on the night of February 13-14, 2013. He fired a shotgun through her bedroom bathroom door, claiming he mistook her for a burglar. The incident occurred in his Pretoria residence and was a worldwide shock.
Adding to the case’s complexity, reports suggest that Reeva Steenkamp’s mother, June Steenkamp, will not oppose Pistorius’ bid for freedom. While not attending the hearing in Pretoria, she is expected to deliver a powerful impact statement through a lawyer. Initially convicted of culpable homicide, equivalent to manslaughter, Pistorius’ conviction was later upgraded to murder, culminating in a sentence of 13 years and five months. His eligibility for parole has been muddied by prosecutorial appeals and subsequent sentence adjustments.
The Supreme Court of Appeal ruled in 2017 that Pistorius must serve a minimum of 15 years for murder, accounting for time already served for culpable homicide. A court error, not counting a period Pistorius served while his murder sentence was appealed, means he was actually eligible for parole earlier than initially thought.
Despite this, his release is not guaranteed and may involve conditions like day parole, where he could live and work in the community but return to prison at night.
Oscar Pistorius’ case continues to navigate a complex legal landscape, reflecting the intricate nature of South Africa’s justice system.
The parole board’s upcoming decision will not only determine Pistorius’ immediate future but also contribute to the ongoing discourse on legal processes and justice in high-profile cases.
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