Oscar Pistorius, the South African Paralympic athlete known as “Blade Runner” for the prosthetic legs he used to compete, was released from prison on parole today after serving half of his 13-year sentence for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013.
Background on the Murder Case
On February 14, 2013, Pistorius shot four times through a locked bathroom door in his Pretoria home, hitting Steenkamp in the hip, arm and head and killing her. Pistorius claimed he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he fired the fatal shots.
At his trial in 2014, Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter, and sentenced to five years in prison. The case was appealed, and the conviction was upgraded to murder by an appeals court in 2015. Pistorius’ sentence was increased to 13 years and five months in prison.
Release From Prison
After serving half his sentence, Pistorius was released on parole from the Atteridgeville Correctional Centre today. According to South African law, he will be placed under “correctional supervision”, likely at his uncle Arnold Pistorius’ home, and his movements will be restricted.
|Conditions of Pistorius’ Parole
|– Curfew from 8pm-6am daily
|– Must meet with parole officer weekly
|– Cannot leave home without permission
|– No firearm possession allowed
|– No contact with witnesses from murder trial
Pistorius, now 37, left prison this morning accompanied by police vehicles and was brought to his uncle’s house in Waterkloof, Pretoria under heavy security presence.
The Steenkamp family has opposed Pistorius’ release, saying he has never shown real remorse for the murder. The Women’s Legal Centre, which represented Steenkamp’s parents at Pistorius’ parole hearings, said “The parole placement does not denote Pistorius’ innocence – he took Reeva’s life and must acknowledge that.”
What Supporters & Critics Are Saying
Pistorius still has some supporters who emphasize his achievements as an athlete. One former teacher said Pistorius had been “punished enough for a crime he committed in great emotional distress and without intent.”
However, women’s rights groups and anti-gender violence advocates have heavily criticized his early release. The Progressive Women’s Movement of South Africa stated: “Barely two months into the annual 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, Pistorius will walk free. Where is the justice for Reeva Steenkamp and for gender-based violence victims-survivors in SA?”
Fall From Grace for Paralympic Hero
Pistorius’ release caps a fall from grace for the athlete once hailed as an inspiration for the disabled community.
|Oscar Pistorius Achievements
|– Double amputee runner
|– Won 6 Paralympic gold medals
|– First amputee to compete at Olympics
|– Global role model for disabled athletes
Dubbed “Blade Runner” for his J-shaped prosthetic running blades, Pistorius competed in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Paralympics before becoming the first amputee runner to compete at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
With his athletic achievements and charismatic personality, Pistorius was an international star, attracting sponsorships from Nike, Oakley and Thierry Mugler. Time named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2012 after his first Olympic appearance.
What Comes Next for Pistorius
For the next eight years until December 2029, Pistorius will be under strict parole conditions and correctional supervision. His uncle Arnold told reporters: “Oscar has ambitions to resume athletic training…his return to regular athletics would honour Reeva.”
The reaction to that statement indicates many believe it is still too soon for Pistorius to consider a return to public life.
Pistorius also faces a court battle to receive part of his estate that was seized when he couldn’t pay legal fees after the murder conviction. Reports indicate his lawyers will file a lawsuit to access those funds now that he’s been released.
The Steenkamp family has started a foundation named after Reeva to help empower and protect abuse victims. They and women’s rights advocates will likely continue advocating for stricter enforcement of sentence lengths and parole restrictions in gender-based violence cases. Though out of prison, this remains unfinished business for Oscar Pistorius.
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