(FILE) Defendant Oscar Pistorius (C) appears in the Pretoria Magistrates court in Pretoria, South Africa, 19 August 2013. EFE/EPA/STRINGER

South African paralympian Pistorius denied parole over murder of girlfriend

Johannesburg, Mar 31 (EFE).- Former South African paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, who was found guilty of the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, has been denied parole, South Africa’s Department of Correctional Services (DCS) said Friday.

(FILE) – South African paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius (R) and his girlfriend model Reeva Steenkamp (L) pose at the South African sports awards ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa, 04 November 2012. EFE/EPA/FRENNIE SHIVAMBU

The parole board, which includes representatives from the prison service, police and civilian society, made the decision at a closed hearing at the Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Center in Pretoria.

According to a statement from the DCS, Pistorius was denied early release because “the inmate did not complete the minimum detention period.” The board said it would review the matter in August 2024.

During Friday’s hearing, the victim’s mother, June Steenkamp, submitted written and oral statements arguing against Pistorius’ release.

“I don’t believe his story,” she told reporters outside the hearing.

Tania Koen (L), lawyer for the Steenkamp family, speaks to members of the media upon her arrival to the Atteridgeville Prison where the parole hearing for Oscar Pistorius is taking place, in Pretoria, South Africa, 31 March 2023. EFE/EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

Ahead of the session, she had said she was “very nervous” and would find it “very hard to be in the same room” with Pistorius, who was one of the world’s most recognisable athletes when he killed Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013.

Last year, Pistorius, 36, applied for a parole hearing arguing that he had served more than half his sentence for Steenkamp’s murder.

Under South African law, offenders who have served half their sentence are eligible for parole, a milestone Pistorius claimed to have reached.

The athlete said he had done everything in his power to rehabilitate himself and had shown total remorse, according to the statement submitted to the court.

Following a trial that captured worldwide media attention, Pistorius was initially sentenced in October 2014 to five years in prison for culpable homicide, as Judge Thokozile Masipa found that there were mitigating circumstances.

But the prosecution appealed against that ruling, and in November 2015, South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal overturned Pistorius’ culpable homicide conviction and found him guilty of murder, remanding the case back to the trial court for resentencing.

In July 2016, Justice Masipa sentenced Pistorius to six years in jail, but after another appeal by the prosecution, the Supreme Court of Appeal raised the sentence in November 2017 to 15 years, the minimum term under South African law for murder cases barring exceptional situations.

That sentence effectively meant 13 years and five months in prison, when allowing for the time Pistorius had already served.

In July last year, the Department of Correctional Services confirmed that Pistorius and Steenkamp’s parents had met the previous month, as part of the athlete’s rehabilitation, which was a requirement before he could apply for parole.

Pistorius shot Steenkamp four times through a closed bathroom door at her Pretoria home, claiming at trial that he mistook her for a burglar.

A double leg amputee since he was an infant, Pistorius achieved worldwide fame at the London Olympics in 2012 for competing on two carbon prostheses, earning him the nickname ‘The Blade Runner’. EFE