Pistorius out on parole after murder sentence
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius, a double-amputee who became a global star competing at his sport’s highest level while running on carbon-fibre blades, was released from prison on Friday after serving nearly nine years for killing his girlfriend, the model Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius, 37, quietly left Atteridgeville Correctional Center in Pretoria and was processed at a parole office before being released to his family, Department of Corrections spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo told The Associated Press. Nxumalo, who referred to Pistorius’s release as an “operation” designed to avoid a media scramble, declined to give further details.
“I can only tell you he was released this morning,” Nxumalo said.
Pistorius served nearly nine years of his murder sentence of 13 years and five months for the fatal shooting of Steenkamp, 29, at his home on Valentine’s Day 2013. He became eligible for early release having served at least half his sentence, and was approved for parole in November.
Pistorius will live under strict parole conditions, including a ban on speaking to the media, until his sentence expires in December 2029. He is expected to initially live at his uncle’s mansion in the upscale Pretoria suburb of Waterkloof, which is where he stayed during his seven-month trial in 2014.
A police van was outside that house and a police officer was seen coming out later Friday. The officer declined to comment to reporters. Three black private security vehicles were also parked in front of the mansion.
Pistorius continues to insist that he shot Steenkamp in error after mistaking her for a dangerous intruder hiding in a bathroom in his Pretoria villa in the middle of the night. He fired four times through a locked toilet cubicle door, hitting Steenkamp in the head, hip and hand. He claimed he fired in what he believed was self-defence and that he didn’t know it was his girlfriend in the cubicle. Prosecutors alleged that he intentionally killed her in anger during an argument.
In addition to her modelling career, Steenkamp was a reality TV star with a law degree who had become an activist against violence against women in South Africa — an irony given how she died. She and Pistorius had only been dating for a few months.
A timeline of Pistorius’s life:
Nov 22, 1986 — Pistorius is born with a congenital condition where he has no fibula bones. His legs are amputated below the knee before he is a year old.
May 16, 2008 — Already a multiple Paralympic champion, Pistorius wins a ruling at sport’s highest court that overturns a previous ban and allows him to compete against able-bodied athletes, at the world’s biggest track events, on his specially designed carbon-fibre running blades.
Aug 4, 2012 — Pistorius realises his sporting dream to compete at the Olympics. He finishes second in a heat in the 400m to qualify for the semi-finals in London but doesn’t qualify for the final. The “Blade Runner” still makes history as the first double-amputee to run at the Olympics and becomes one of the most recognisable athletes on the planet.
Feb 14, 2013 — Pistorius is at the height of his fame when South African police announce that he has been arrested in connection with the Valentine’s Day shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his villa in the capital, Pretoria. The bombshell news reverberates around the world when Pistorius is charged with murder for shooting the 29-year-old model and law graduate multiple times through a toilet cubicle door in the pre-dawn hours.
Mar 3, 2014 — Pistorius’s murder trial begins at Pretoria High Court under the glare of the world’s media, which is permitted to film the court proceedings live. While Pistorius claims he shot Steenkamp by mistake, believing she was a dangerous intruder in his home, prosecutors allege he killed her intentionally in a late-night argument. During his dramatic seven-month trial Pistorius cries, wails, and at times vomits in the courtroom as prosecutors describe Steenkamp’s fatal shooting. He also undergoes a psychiatric evaluation. The trial shatters his image as prosecutors say he has a history of angry outbursts, being verbally abusive towards girlfriends, and acting recklessly with guns.
Sept 12, 2014 — Pistorius is acquitted of murder by a judge but found guilty of a charge comparable to manslaughter for killing Steenkamp. He is also convicted on a separate charge relating to him and a group of friends recklessly firing a gun under a table in a restaurant. He is sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter. Prosecutors say they will appeal the “shockingly light” sentence.
Dec 3, 2015 — A panel of judges at South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal overturns Pistorius’s manslaughter conviction and finds him guilty of murder. The trial judge sentences him to six years in prison for murder, which prosecutors again appeal.
Nov 24, 2017 — The Supreme Court of Appeal more than doubles Pistorius’s sentence to 13 years and five months in prison. Pistorius had been first jailed at Kgosi Mampuru II Prison in Pretoria, a notorious apartheid-era jail. He is moved to the city’s Atteridgeville Correctional Centre, which officials say is better suited to disabled prisoners.
Jun 22, 2022 — Pistorius meets face to face with Steenkamp’s father, Barry Steenkamp, as part of a victim-offender dialogue that he must undertake if he wants to be eligible to be released on parole. Barry Steenkamp, who died last year, says after the meeting that he still believes Pistorius is lying about his daughter’s killing and wants him to stay in prison for life.
Mar 31, 2023 — Pistorius attends a parole hearing but is denied early release. The Department of Corrections says he hasn’t served the required time in prison and will only be eligible in August 2024. Authorities later concede that was an error due to a miscount by a court over how long Pistorius had already served in prison before his sentence was changed in 2017.
Nov 24, 2023 — Pistorius is granted parole at a second hearing and officials say he will be released January 5, although he will still be strictly monitored for the next five years until he has served his entire sentence.