Seeking parole, Pistorius meets with girlfriend’s father

by Michael Nguyen
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Parole Process

In pursuit of parole, Oscar Pistorius, the former South African track star, held a meeting with Barry Steenkamp, the father of Reeva Steenkamp, the woman tragically killed by Pistorius in 2013. This encounter took place on June 22, as part of the parole process, and was conducted under the framework of a victim-offender dialogue, a practice acknowledged in South African legal proceedings. This dialogue provides victims of crimes or their kin with the option to engage with the offenders before the latter become eligible for parole.

Tania Koen, the attorney representing the Steenkamp family, confirmed the meeting but refrained from divulging further specifics. In a message, Koen stated, “The dialogue is a private and confidential matter, hence we ask that our clients’ privacy be respected.”

Pistorius, once celebrated as a double-amputee track sensation who made history by competing at the Olympics, became eligible for parole last year, eight years after the tragic incident that transpired in his Pretoria residence, where his girlfriend lost her life. Pistorius, now 35, was ultimately convicted of murder in 2015 following a protracted and high-profile trial, accompanied by numerous appeals. He was sentenced to 13 years and five months of imprisonment.

For the majority of his sentence, Pistorius resided in a Pretoria penitentiary, but he was subsequently relocated to a facility in Gqeberha, the hometown of the Steenkamp family, in preparation for the meeting with Barry Steenkamp.

A parole hearing for Pistorius had been slated for the previous year, yet it was canceled because he had not yet engaged with Steenkamp’s parents.

In South Africa, individuals convicted of serious crimes must serve at least half of their sentences before becoming eligible for parole. Pistorius had previously served time in incarceration after an initial conviction of culpable homicide, akin to manslaughter. However, this conviction was later overturned, resulting in his conviction for murder.

Pistorius still awaits a parole hearing, during which officials from the Department of Corrections will determine whether he should be granted early release. Julian Knight, Pistorius’ legal counsel, stated last year that his client had exhibited exemplary behavior as a prisoner and met the prerequisites for parole.

Born with a congenital condition that necessitated the amputation of both his legs below the knee during infancy, Pistorius achieved remarkable success as a multiple Paralympic sprinting champion, competing with carbon-fiber blades. He even earned the privilege to contend with the world’s foremost able-bodied athletes at the 2012 London Olympics. However, his once-inspiring image in the world of sports was shattered when he fatally shot 29-year-old Reeva Steenkamp multiple times through a bathroom door in his residence during the early hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013. Despite his assertion that he had mistaken her for an intruder, he was convicted of a charge akin to second-degree murder due to the recklessness displayed in his use of a 9mm pistol.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Parole Process

Q: What is the purpose of Oscar Pistorius meeting with Barry Steenkamp as part of his parole process?

A: The meeting between Oscar Pistorius and Barry Steenkamp is a part of what’s known as a victim-offender dialogue in South Africa. This dialogue provides victims of crimes or their relatives with the opportunity to meet with the offenders, if they choose to do so, before the offender becomes eligible for parole. It serves as a means for reconciliation, understanding, and potentially influencing parole decisions.

Q: Has Oscar Pistorius already become eligible for parole?

A: Yes, Oscar Pistorius became eligible for parole last year, eight years after the tragic incident in which he killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. However, his parole hearing was postponed until he met with the parents of the victim, which has now taken place.

Q: What was Oscar Pistorius originally convicted of, and what is his current conviction?

A: Initially, Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide, a charge similar to manslaughter. However, after a successful appeal by prosecutors, his conviction was changed to murder. He is currently serving a 13-year and five-month sentence for murder.

Q: How does South Africa’s parole system work?

A: In South Africa, individuals convicted of serious crimes must serve at least half of their sentences before they become eligible for parole. During a parole hearing, officials from the Department of Corrections assess whether the offender should be released early based on their behavior and rehabilitation efforts while in prison.

Q: What are the implications of the victim-offender dialogue being private and confidential?

A: The private and confidential nature of the victim-offender dialogue means that the details and discussions that took place between Oscar Pistorius and Barry Steenkamp during their meeting will not be disclosed to the public. This confidentiality is maintained to respect the privacy of the individuals involved and to facilitate open and candid discussions in these sensitive situations.

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