What next for Oscar Pistorius as he is released from prison?

Having served more than half his sentence, the 37-year-old double-amputee left the Atteridgeville prison on the outskirts of the capital Pretoria on Friday

Oscar Pistorius leaves the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, on June 14, 2016 during his trail for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. AP
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South Africa's ex-Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius was released from prison on parole on Friday, almost 11 years after he shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in a crime that gripped the world.

Having served more than half his sentence, officials confirmed the 37-year-old double-amputee left the Atteridgeville prison on the outskirts of the capital Pretoria under South Africa's so-called restorative justice programme.

Pistorius, known worldwide as “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fibre prosthetic legs, will not be allowed to speak to the media as a condition of his parole.

Prison authorities warned the media ahead of Pistorius' release that there would be no opportunity to photograph him.

Why was Oscar Pistorius sent to prison?

Pistorius killed 29-year-old Steenkamp in the early hours of February 14, 2013, firing four times through the bathroom door of his ultra-secure Pretoria house.

The shooting came a year after Pistorius made history by being the first double-amputee to race at Olympic level when he appeared at the London 2012 games.

He was found guilty of murder and given a 13-year jail sentence in 2017 after a lengthy trial and several appeals.

He had pleaded not guilty and denied killing Steenkamp in a rage, saying he mistook her for a burglar.

What will happen to Oscar Pistorius after his release?

Pistorius became eligible for parole in March 2023 after he had served half of his 13 years and five months sentence for murder.

He was granted parole on November 24, to take effect on January 5.

South Africa's Department of Correctional Services (DCS) said in November that Pistorius would complete the remainder of his sentence in the country's community corrections system.

He will be under the supervision of the DCS and will be subjected to parole conditions until his sentence expires in December 2029.

He will be assigned a monitoring official, who will have to be kept informed when Pistorius is seeking job opportunities or moving homes.

As part of the conditions, Pistorius will not be allowed to consume alcohol and other prohibited substances, and will be restricted from doing media interviews, the DCS said.

He will also be expected to be home at particular hours of the day. The DCS did not specify the hours.

Pistorius will also have to attend programmes on gender-based violence and continue therapy sessions on anger management, a lawyer for the Steenkamp family said shortly after he was granted parole.

What was considered for his early release?

Several factors are typically taken into account by a parole board, including the nature of the crime, the possibility of reoffending, conduct in prison, physical and mental well-being and potential threats a prisoner may face if released.

Before his parole, Pistorius also participated in the restorative justice programme – a system introduced after the end of apartheid to deal with apartheid-era crimes in a more participative and reconciliatory way.

It is based partly on how indigenous cultures handled crime long before Europeans colonised South Africa, with the aim of bringing affected parties in a crime together to find closure, rather than merely punishing perpetrators.

An integral part of the restorative justice programme is a victim-offender dialogue that brings parties affected by a crime together to try to achieve closure. Participation is voluntary.

Pistorius was moved to a prison closer to where the Steenkamp family stayed in late 2021, ahead of reconciliation talks aimed at a potential early release from prison.

He and the late Barry Steenkamp – Reeva's father – participated in the victim-offender dialogue on June 22, 2022.

Offenders in South Africa are automatically eligible for parole consideration after serving half of their sentence.

What has been the reaction?

The Steenkamp's family lawyer said in November that they were not surprised by the parole decision.

In the run-up to the parole hearing, Reeva Steenkamp's mother, June, released a statement saying she was not convinced Pistorius had been rehabilitated. However, she said she had no objections to his release.

After Pistorius was granted parole, June Steenkamp lauded the parole board's efforts in involving the victims.

“My dear child screamed for her life loud enough for the neighbours to hear her. I do not know what gave rise to his choice to shoot through a closed door,” June Steenkamp had said in her submission to the parole board.

“Nobody can claim to have remorse if they're not able to engage fully with the truth.”

Pistorius' lawyer and family did not comment.

Updated: January 07, 2024, 5:27 AM