Oscar Pistorius may be released from prison within the next week, a decade after he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013.
Pistorius’ parole hearing takes place on Friday.
“The board must determine whether the prison sentence served its purpose,” says Singabakho Nxumalo, spokesperson for the Department of Correctional Services, in the run-up to the former sports hero’s parole hearing.
Reeva’s mother, June, will attend the hearing on Friday to “make representations to the parole board”, confirmed Tania Koen, legal representative of Reeva’s parents.
The presentations will include both June and her husband Barry’s victim impact reports. However, Barry will not be present when his wife makes the presentations as he is unable to travel due to ill health.
Koen says she is not in a position to comment on the position the Steenkamp parents will take regarding Pistorius’ possible release. “They are going to do their presentations. And then of course the law will take its course.”
Pistorius, now 36 years old, has already served more than half of his 13-year prison sentence.
Kelly Phelps, a law professor at the University of Cape Town, says the parole board, which usually consists of officials from the Department of Correctional Services as well as community members, will consider during the trial whether Pistorius has been rehabilitated or still poses a danger to society.
The council will also take into account the seriousness of the offense as well as Pistorius’ behavior behind bars. This will include, among other things, whether he has attended educational and life skills programs in the past decade in custody.
An offender is usually released on parole on certain conditions. The conditions may include monitoring the offender’s movements after his or her release as well as their mandatory reporting to a community corrections centre.
“Restrictions on the use of alcohol and your ability to own firearms are also common,” explains Phelps.
Nxumalo from correctional services says so-called day parole, where the prisoner returns to prison in the evening as well as community service is also a possibility.
According to Nxumalo, the parole board usually announces its decision on the same day as the hearing or the day after.
However, he hinted that “the decision will not be made in the same way” in Pistorius’ case.
If parole is denied, the offender has the right to approach the courts for review.
Pistorius shot dead his girlfriend Reeva in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013 in his home in Pretoria when he fired four shots through the bathroom door.
He was initially sentenced to six years in prison, but this sentence was extended by the Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein after the state appealed against Pistorius’ sentence.
Pistorius denies that he deliberately killed Reeva and maintains that he mistook her for a burglar that night.
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