The Pistorius family will have to wait a little longer for their prodigal son to return to the fold, as his much anticipated release tomorrow has been stalled for up to four months while the parole board reviews his case. This announcement followed what seemed like an 11th hour intervention by the Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Michael Masutha, who claimed “there was no legal basis for the decision”.
It’s a blow for the former blade-running Olympic champion who was to serve the remainder of his sentence under correctional supervision in the comfort and security of his uncle’s Pretoria home. There’s been no word about how Oscar is taking the disappointment, but the success of the anger management programme he allegedly completed will likely be put to the test.
Convicted of culpable homicide for shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013, Pistorius was handed down a five year sentence in October last year by Judge Thokozile Masipa.
Stories about Oscar’s incarceration in the maximum security Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria have been relatively sparse except for a video of him “playing soccer” with notorious Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir.
It’s thought that the Steenkamp family’s submission to the parole board some time ago was instrumental in the justice department’s intervention. In it, the family said they had forgiven Oscar even though he took their daughter’s life and that their lives will never be the same. The submission contended that while they weren’t seeking to “avenge her death”, they had grave reservations about how much time Oscar had served and they expressed the view that “a person found guilty of a crime must be held accountable for their actions.”
Citing that statistics reveal a society constantly under attack from criminals and murderers, the submission concluded: “Incarceration of 10 months for taking a life is simply not enough. We fear this will not send out the proper message and serve as the deterrent that it should.”
With the same dignity we witnessed from June Steenkamp and her family in court last year, they were intent on making Reeva’s 32nd birthday yesterday a day to remember their daughter’s life and contributions, rather than a day about Oscar.
Meanwhile, whatever the outcome of the parole board’s review, there’s also that small matter of the State’s appeal against Oscar’s conviction of culpable homicide, which Judge Masipa granted last year.