Home South African News One down, two years to go for parole

One down, two years to go for parole


Fans show Oscar Pistorius support

Oscar Pistorius. Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko, Reuters

“YOUR smile will see us again. God will heal what hurts. Stand strong as you remain my golden boy. You are one in a million.”

This is one of the several messages on social media which have been pouring in from all over the world this week by members of the Support for Oscar group as they commemorated a year since the Blade Runner went back to prison.

Oscar Pistorius returned to jail for a second time a year ago Thursday to begin serving his six-year term for the 2013 Valentine’s Day killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

While the media hype around the once golden boy’s incarceration has died down, his supporters have clearly not forgotten him. Messages of encouragement were posted on social media throughout the past year, but on special occasions, such as this week, it intensified.

“I am not asking you to be strong, my boy, because you have not been anything else. I beg you not to give up or lose faith,” another supporter wrote. The message, in the form of a poem, was ended with the encouragement that “the light will reach you once again. Please hold out until then,” the female fan urged.

While Correctional Services said Pistorius was doing well and adjusting to his circumstances, his advocate, Barry Roux, in papers filed with the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein, said the looming appeal proceedings by the State against his “lenient” six-year jail term for murder is hanging like a sword over his head.

“On July 6, 2016, he returned to prison to commence serving the six-year jail sentence. Then the State applied for leave to appeal. Since then, the respondent (Pistorius) had to await the outcome of the present proceedings, further prolonging the agony caused by uncertainty,” Roux said.

Former chief prosecutor in the high-profile trial, Gerrie Nel, expressed his shock and dissatisfaction a year ago after Judge Thokozile Masipa sentenced Pistorius for a second time – this time to a six-year jail sentence for murder. He at the time stormed stony-faced out of the courtroom.

This was soon followed by an application to the SCA, in which he objected to what he had referred to as a severely lenient sentence. The SCA earlier ordered that it would hear oral argument, but has been dragging its heels for almost a year.

A senior official close to the case this week anticipated that the appeal would only be heard towards the end of this year.

With a year in jail under his belt, Pistorius will have to remain in prison for at least another two years – three of his six-year-jail term – before he is considered for parole.

Roux said in his latest papers filed with the SCA that there is no prospect of the State succeeding in its application to up the former Paralympic champion’s jail sentence. He said the sentence was equivalent to an eight-year jail sentence, as he was in 2014 convicted of culpable homicide, after which which he had to spend a year in jail.

Roux said Pistorius’s first stint in jail can be described as solitary confinement, as he could not share a cell with other inmates due to his special needs. He was kept in the hospital section of the jail at the time.

When he was released, he was placed under correctional supervision, which meant house arrest at his Uncle Arnold Pistorius’s Waterkloof home for seven months during 2015, until he had to return to jail. This sentence came after the State successfully appealed Judge Masipa’s culpable homicide verdict.

The SCA at the time replaced it with murder and ordered the judge to resentence him.

Roux said it was accepted by the court that Pistorius did not genuinely want to kill Steenkamp in the early hours of the morning when he fired four shots into the toilet door of his Pretoria East home. Pistorius maintained he believed there were intruders behind the door and that Steenkamp was in bed at the time.

While Pistorius’s future is uncertain, he will celebrate his 30th birthday on November 22 behind bars.