Oscar Pistorius will be released from prison on Tuesday after serving just under a year of his five year sentence, a South African parole board has announced.
The athlete will serve the rest of his sentence under house arrest in Pretoria. He is expected to stay at his uncle's home, although this has not been confirmed.
Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide for shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through a locked bathroom door in his home on Valentine's Day in 2013. The 29-year-old, a model and law graduate, was shot four times.
Pistorius claimed he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder and acted in self-defence, but prosecutors claim he shot with intent to kill.
SABC TV journalist Chriselda Lewsi said the Steenkamp family’s lawyer Tania Koen was informed of the decision to release him on Thursday. Reeva’s parents June and Barry have campaigned against his release and still believe his prison sentence was too short, Koen added.
“Nothing has changed for June and Barry, nothing will bring Reeva back,” she told CNN. “They are not surprised at all by this announcement. They expected this.”
The 28-year-old had been due for release in September after serving one sixth of his five year sentence until the justice minister intervened two days before and ordered a review into the legality of his parole.
Pistorius has been undergoing “regular and ongoing” psychotherapy from both his prison and personal psychologists. His family claim his rights have been undermined because of the “public, political and media” hype surrounding his case and criticised the delay in determining his parole date.
The decision to release Pistorius was condemned by the charity Womenkind Worldwide, who said his case presented a “grim pattern”.
“Violence against women and girls is a human rights crisis that states are obliged to take action to end," a spokesperson said. "But all too often we see low levels of convictions, short sentences given to perpetrators and survivor-blaming from state officials – all of which send the message that these crimes are not taken seriously.”
Women’s Aid said the decison to release him exposed the lack of value placed on women. “Reeva Steenkamp’s life clearly weighs less heavily in the judicial balance than Pistorious’ access to freedom,” it said in a statement.
“It seems that the excuses that have surrounded him since he killed her are more important than the fact that she is dead.
“This is a devastating indication of the lack of value placed on women’s lives. Until this changes, we will never progress towards to a culture which values women’s lives enough to make them safer.”
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