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Parole for Pistorius?
Sensemaker audio

Parole for Pistorius?

Parole for Pistorius?

Oscar Pistorius, South Africa’s most famous athlete, was jailed in 2016 for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp. He could soon be released on parole.


Transcript
Claudia williams, narrating:

Hi, I’m Claudia and this is the Sensemaker.

One story every day to make sense of the world. 

In 2016, Oscar Pistorius was convicted of murder. 

Today, I’m asking: could he be let out of jail soon?

***

On the 14th of February 2013 police and an ambulance crew were called to a luxury, gated community in Pretoria, South Africa. 

A woman had been shot dead by her boyfriend. 

“It does appear from initial reports that Oscar Pistorius perhaps shot and killed his girlfriend in the early hours of this morning.” 

CNN

The victim was Reeva Steenkamp, a model and TV star. 

The killer was the athlete, Oscar Pistorius. 

“Pistorius shot Steenkamp through a locked bathroom door claiming it was an accident, that he fired his gun believing an intruder had broken into his home. The prosecution argued he was a cold-blooded killer who shot Steenkamp after and argument.”

CBS

News of the killing shocked South Africa – and the world. 

Everyone knew who Oscar Pistorius was…

He was “The Blade Runner”. 

A double amputee and an Olympic and Paralympic star, Oscar Pistorius was one of the fastest sprinters – and one of the most famous sportsmen – in the world. 

But now he was in the dock accused of killing his girlfriend. 

***

At first, Pistorius was convicted of manslaughter, but on appeal that was upgraded to murder. 

The trail attracted massive amounts of attention.  

The judge said she wouldn’t be affected by the hullabaloo: 

“Public opinion may be loud and persistent, but it can play no role in the decision of this court,” she said. 

But some critics said she did seem to be swayed by the “hero” status of the defendant.

When she convicted Oscar Pistorius of Reeva Steenkamp’s murder she sentenced him to six years in jail. 

That’s a short sentence. The minimum for murder in South Africa is usually 15 years. 

But the country’s top appeals court eventually decided to extend his sentence. 

He’s served half of his time now – and under South African law he’s allowed to apply for parole. 

So could he be released from prison?

***

Even though Oscar Pistorius is eligible for parole, there’s no guarantee he’ll actually get it.

Part of the parole process in South Africa is what’s called “offender-victim dialogue.” 

“South African authorities said having served half his sentence Pistorius is eligible for parole. One of the crucial parts of the process is for the perpetrator to have a successful dialogue with the victim’s parents.” 

Reuters

Reeva Steenkamp’s Mum and Dad have agreed to meet him. But their lawyer warned it could be a difficult process for them: 

“It’s a very sensitive issue and the wound, even though so much time has passed, is still very raw.”

SABC

To be granted parole, Oscar Pistorius will have to prove that he “acknowledges and takes responsibility for his actions”. 

This meeting with his victim’s family is, then, a key part in that process.   

It looks like the Steenkamps could be meeting with Oscar Pistorius very soon. 

Earlier this week he was moved across the country to a prison close to the Steenkamp family home. 

So what do Reeva Steenkamp’s parents want to get out of the meeting?

***

Reeva Steenkamp’s mother June, says that she has forgiven Oscar Pistorius:

“From God I was asked to forgive him and that’s the only thing but it doesn’t mean that he hasn’t got to pay for what he’s done. He showed no remorse and we don’t believe the story, we don’t believe the story that he gave. I don’t know how it came to that. We want the truth, Barry and I want the truth.” 

GMB

But she and her husband Barry don’t believe what Oscar Pistorius claims about their daughter’s death. 

He says it was an accident and he didn’t mean to kill her. They think it was premeditated. 

During his trial back in 2014, Oscar Pistorius made an emotional apology to Barry and June in the courtroom. 

“There hasn’t been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven’t thought about your family.  I was simply trying to protect Reeva.” 

ABC News

But the Steenkamps are skeptical.

And if he apologises to them this time they think it’ll only be because showing remorse could help him get out on parole. 

They don’t think he should be allowed to leave prison until his full sentence is up.

But ultimately, that’s for the legal system to determine, June says: 

“I really don’t think that we’re gonna have that much influence. It’s not gonna change anything. It’s up to them to decide. We leave it up to the law to decide.” 

GMB

Whatever the South African authorities eventually decide, one thing is already certain: 

Just like the trail, this parole process and its outcome will make news across the world.

***