Oscar Pistorius early parole sends wrong message: Steenkamp family

JUNE 9, 2015

Reeva Steenkamp's family believe releasing Oscar Pistorius on parole in August, after just 10 months into his five-year sentence sends the wrong message about the justice system.

The parole board at his prison overruled an emotional plea from the 29-year-old victim’s parents when it sat last week.

In their submission, Barry and June Steenkamp said: “We have forgiven Mr Pistorius even though he took the life of our precious daughter, Reeva. Our lives will never be the same as we live with the sadness of her death every day.

“Reeva had so much to offer this world and we were all robbed of her life when she was killed. As her family, 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.”

The Steenkamps added: “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.”

Due to his physical disability, Pistorius has been held since 21 October in the hospital ward of Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria.

On Monday the Department of Correctional Services said the prison’s parole board had met last week “and approved the placement of Oscar Pistorius under correctional supervision with effect from 21 August 2015”.

This is in line with legislation stating that “an offender may serve only one sixth of his/her sentence in custody, and continue to serve the remaining period of the sentence under correctional supervision”, it added. “The family of the victim was invited and participated in the deliberations” of the parole board.

The Steenkamps lawyer, Tania Koen, said: “They are shocked by the fact that Oscar Pistorius will be receiving parole and going out on 21 August. They don’t think 10 months is enough for taking a life. Whether it was Reeva behind the door or anybody else behind that door, it doesn’t send out a proper message and it doesn’t serve as a deterrent.”

June Steenkamp was discharged from hospital on Sunday after a major operation, Koen added. “She’s not in a good place. She’s very fragile at the moment.”

But Pistorius is not really free yet. It was also announced on Monday that an appeal against his culpable homicide conviction will be heard in November, when prosecutors will argue that judge Thokozile Masipa misinterpreted the law and should have found him guilty of murder.

If the supreme court of appeal agrees, Pistorius would face the prospect of being sent back to prison for a minimum of 15 years.

The Department of Correctional Services says the decision to place Oscar Pistorius under correctional supervision has no bearing on the state's pending appeal against his conviction on a charge of culpable homicide.

Department spokesperson, Manelisi Wolela, says the decision taken by the parole board of the Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre was a separate and independent process and should be treated as such.

"The Correctional supervision and Parole board of Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre in Pretoria, on the 5th of June, approved the placement of Oscar Pistorius under correctional supervision effective from the 21st of August" he said.