Oscar Pistorius freed under house arrest

The family of Reeva Steenkamp, who was killed by Oscar Pistorius, said they were indifferent to his release in view of their loss but were open to the idea of meeting with South Africa’s double-amputee ‘Blade Runner’ in the future.

Pistorius was released on parole late on Monday, just short of a year into his five-year sentence for killing his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day 2013.

The Paralympic gold medalist must serve the rest of his sentence under house arrest but still faces an appeal on November 3 by prosecutors who argue he should have been convicted of murder, not culpable homicide.

Pistorius, aged 28, who was found guilty of the lesser charge when he fired four shots through a locked bathroom door and hit Steenkamp, will be confined to his uncle Arnold’s home in a wealthy suburb of Pretoria.

Pistorius had been expected to leave prison yesterday, and his early release took media by surprise.

Family spokeswoman Anneliese Burgess said:

“The family is happy that Oscar is home, but they want to make the point that his sentence continues,” Burgess said outside the house.

The Department of Correctional Services said officials at the capital’s Kgosi Mampuru II prison had acted to avoid a media scrum at its gates.

A lawyer for Steenkamp’s family, who publicly questioned the verdict in August, said they were indifferent to his release. “To them, it doesn’t matter whether he was released yesterday a few hours earlier or a few hours later,” lawyer Tania Koen said on Talk Radio 702.

“Whether he remains incarcerated or not, it makes no difference to them now because Reeva is still not coming back.”

Following a suggestion by South Africa’s minister of justice that Pistorius should meet with the parents of his slain girlfriend, Tania Koen, the lawyer for Steenkamp’s parents, said they would be open to that.

Oscar Pistorius freed under house arrest

<i>Family spokeswoman Anneliese Burgess</i>

However, “the timing would have to be right”, Koen said. The proper time would be after Pistorius’s case is heard by the Supreme Court, she said, and “he [Pistorius] would have to initiate it”.

On the day she was killed, Steenkamp was due to give a speech on domestic abuse at a school. Her mother will today deliver that same speech at a school in the Steenkamps’ home town of Port Elizabeth, Koen said.

Pistorius, whose lower legs were amputated when he was a baby, was freed in line with South African sentencing guidelines that say non-dangerous prisoners should spend only a sixth of a custodial sentence behind bars.

Pistorius will be allowed to leave the house on occasion. “The conditions are strict and he will be able to leave the house to go to work, go to church or to buy groceries,” said Karen van Eck, a lawyer with Clarke and Van Eck Attorneys.

However, as his job is competitive athletics this could prove challenging for him, as events far from the house will likely be off-limits, said Van Eck.


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