Oscar Pistorius, the South African double amputee sprinter who shot dead his girlfriend, is scheduled to be freed on parole on August 21 after serving just 10 months in jail, officials said Monday.
The proposed release date provoked an angry reaction from the parents of model and television presenter Reeva Steenkamp, 29, who Pistorius shot on Valentine’s Day in 2013.
Pistorius, a role model around the world after competing in the Paralympics and Olympics, claimed that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder, firing four shots through a locked bathroom door.
“Incarceration of 10 months for taking a life is simply not enough,” her parents June and Barry Steenkamp said a statement released online.
“We fear that this will not send out the proper message and serve as the deterrent it should.”
The statement added that the family had “forgiven” Pistorius and did “not seek to avenge” their daughter’s death.
Pistorius, 28, was found guilty last year of culpable homicide — a charge akin to manslaughter — and sentenced to five years in prison for shooting Steenkamp.
“He has been recommended for correctional supervision on August 21,” Zach Modise, commissioner of the correctional services, told AFP.
“Normally, this will mean house arrest with one hour of free time each day. As he progresses, we will relax these conditions.”
The correctional services’ recommendation will now await final confirmation from the parole board, which is due to issue its decision this week.
– State appeal –
Due to his physical disability, Pistorius is being held in the hospital ward of a Pretoria prison, shielding him from the often brutal overcrowded cells that are known for gang violence.
State prosecutors are appealing against his conviction for culpable homicide, saying he should have been found guilty of murder.
The appeal hearing was set on Monday for November — three months after Pistorius could be freed.
“A specific date has not been set yet, but we can confirm that the appeal will happen in November this year,” a Supreme Court official, who declined to be named, told AFP.
State prosecutors were granted permission to appeal against the verdict, arguing that Judge Thokozile Masipa misinterpreted the law when she ruled Pistorius did not intentionally kill Steenkamp.
Pistorius’s legal team unsuccessfully tried to halt the appeal, saying the conviction was based on facts presented during the trial and therefore could not be challenged.
The state argued he deliberately killed the 29-year-old law graduate and reality television star after an argument.
If an appeals court finds him guilty of murder, the athlete — known as the “Blade Runner” for his prosthetic legs he wears on the track — could face at least 15 years in jail.
Pistorius, the first double-amputee athlete to compete at the Olympic Games in London in 2012, was jailed after a sensational months-long trial that made world headlines.