Oscar Pistorius is about to be released from prison - 10 months into his five-year sentence

Former athlete will be set free after 'behaving himself very well' in jail

Adam Withnall
Wednesday 12 August 2015 16:21

Oscar Pistorius will be released from jail next week after serving 10 months of his five year sentence for killing his girlfriend, the model Reeva Steenkamp.

While the former athlete did not apply for early release himself, the parole board at Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria where he is being held has recommended he be released into the community at the first opportunity.

After a trial which gripped the world’s attention and ultimately found him guilty of culpable homicide, Pistorius’s time in prison has itself not been without controversy.

Oscar Pistorius leaving the Pretoria High Court after being sentenced on October 21, 2014

But in June, the South African correction services confirmed he would serve the minimum of a sixth of his five-year sentence behind bars.

“He’s behaving himself very well,” said Zach Modise, the services’ national commissioner.

A picture taken on January 26, 2013 shows Olympian sprinter Oscar Pistorius posing next to his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp - 3 weeks later Pistorius was taken into police custody.

When will Pistorius be released?

Pistorius will leave prison on Friday 21 August, exactly 10 months on from his sentence hearing.

Whether he will remain free, however, is another matter. His case remains subject to a Supreme Court appeal hearing in November, when prosecutors will argue that his conviction should be scaled up to murder – and a minimum 15-year jail term.

He would not be expected to attend the appeal hearing, in which five judges will be asked to decide whether Judge Thokozile Masipa correctly interpreted the law when she found Pistorius not guilty of murder.

She made her decision despite the athlete having fired four times through a locked toilet door into a tiny cubicle which, having heard the door slam shut, he knew was occupied.

Oscar Pistorius listens to his judgement in the Pretoria High Court on October 21, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison by Judge Thokozile Masipa.

What are Pistorius’s parole conditions?

On the basis of protecting his “privacy”, correctional services officials have declined to provide details on Pistorius’s specific conditions for supervision once he leaves jail.

Manelisi Wolela, a spokesperson for the department, suggested the former athlete would be subject to the standard system for all offenders as “mandated by law”.

In practice, it has been reported that Pistorius will live under effective house arrest at his uncle Arnold’s home in Waterkloof, Pretoria.

He is likely to be required to do community service, take part in regular mental health checks and refrain from drinking alcohol.

Will he be able to compete as an athlete?

As part of his initial supervision, Pistorius’s travel will be severely restricted. That means that while the South African system demands he try to secure employment after his incarceration, he will in practice struggle to return to professional athletics.

Oscar Pistorius celebrates as he wins gold in the Men's 400m T44 Final on day 10 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games

The organising body behind the Paralympics in Rio in 2016 have already said that Pistorius will not be permitted to compete, regardless of his bail conditions. Officials from the Olympics have declined to comment on his situation.

Provided he commits no further crimes to trigger his additional three-year suspended sentence, and the state’s appeal against his sentence fails, Pistorius will have served his full punishment by the time the 2020 Olympics comes around in Tokyo.

By then he will be aged 33, some way past the peak age for most professional sprinters.

What do the Steenkamps think about it?

June Steenkamp, Reeva Steenkamp's mother, gives a press conference ahead of a discussion on her book 'Reeva, a Mother's story'. Reeva's parents have said despite not wishing for Mr Pistorius to suffer

At the time of Pistorius’s parole hearing, Ms Steenkamp’s parents, June and Barry Steenkamp, condemned the decision to release the athlete so early in his sentence.

In a strongly worded letter, which officials said had been taken into consideration, they said: “We do not seek to avenge her death and we do not want Mr Pistorius to suffer; that will not bring her back to us.

"However, a person found guilty of a crime must be held accountable for their actions.

“Statistics show that our society is under continuous attack from criminals and murderers. Incarceration of 10 months for taking a life is simply not enough. We fear that this will not send out the proper message and serve as the deterrent it should.”

Crowds surrounding a police convoy escorting Pistorius to a prison in Pretoria on October 21, 2014.

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