herald

Monday 5 December 2016

Oscar Pistorius released from prison and 'at home with family'

Oscar Pistorius has been released from prison and placed under house arrest (AP)
Oscar Pistorius has been released from prison and placed under house arrest (AP)

Oscar Pistorius, South Africa’s double-amputee ‘Blade Runner’, was released on parole late last night, just short of a year into his five-year sentence for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013.

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

Pistorius (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 the capital, Pretoria.

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

Family spokeswoman Anneliese Burgess said today that the family were glad to have Pistorius home and that the athlete would observe his parole conditions closely.

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

“Oscar will adhere strictly to the conditions of his parole,” she said.

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

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp at an event two weeks before he shot and killed her
Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp at an event two weeks before he shot and killed her

A neighbour who declined to be named told reporters it was sad that Pistorius was freed having served less than a year in prison. “This is hardly a prison,” she said of the leafy suburb of Waterkloof, where Pretorius is under house arrest.

But Dewald Reynders, a former athlete who said he trained with Pistorius in the past, welcomed the news. Reynders said he’d seen what effect the media scrutiny had on the then teenage boy. “I’m glad he was released quietly last night. He shouldn’t have to go through all of it over and over again.”

The athlete, 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 one-sixth of a custodial sentence behind bars.

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