herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Reeva family fury as Pistorius to be freed after just 10 months

CRIME

Oscar Pistorius, the South African double amputee sprinter who shot dead his girlfriend, is set to be freed on parole in August after serving just 10 months in jail.

The proposed release date has provoked an angry reaction from the parents of model and television presenter Reeva Steenkamp (29), who Pistorius shot on Valentine's Day in 2013.

The disgraced athlete is due to be freed on August 21 despite being sentenced to five years.

In a statement, the Steenkamp family reacted with anger and dismay.

"We do not seek to avenge her death and we do not want Mr Pistorius to suffer; that will not bring her back to us," they said.

"However a person found guilty of a crime must be held accountable for their actions.

"Statistics show that our society is under continuous attack from criminals and murderers.

"Incarceration of 10 months for taking a life is simply not enough. We fear that this will not send out the proper message and serve as the deterrent it should."

The release of Pistorius, whose lower legs were amputated when he was a baby, was largely expected because he was sentenced under South African law to serve a short period of time in jail, or just one-sixth of the sentence.

Pistorius is being held in South Africa's capital at the Pretoria Central Prison, once the execution site for opponents of South Africa's racist, white-minority government.

Steenkamp, a law graduate and model, died almost instantly when Pistorius shot her through a locked toilet door at his luxury Pretoria home.

appeal

Prosecutors had pushed for a murder conviction, but the athlete maintained he fired in the mistaken belief an intruder was hiding behind the door, a defence that struck home in a country with one of the world's highest rates of violent crimes.

The prosecutors won their bid to appeal the culpable homicide conviction and will seek a murder conviction when their case is heard in November.

The decision could leave Pistorius open to a prison sentence of at least 15 years if he is convicted of murder.

Acting National Commissioner of Correctional Services Zach Modise said yesterday that a prison committee recommended last week that Pistorius be released from the prison in Pretoria on August 21.

Modise said the committee made the recommendation on the basis of Pistorius' good behavior in the Kgosi Mampuru II prison.

"He's behaving himself very well," Modise said. "He hasn't given us any problems."

Pistorius's family said in a email it noted the statements from the prisons department and wouldn't be commenting on the decision.

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