In a pivotal turn of events, court documents have unveiled that Oscar Pistorius, the famed double-amputee Olympic and Paralympic runner, was wrongly denied parole and was, in fact, eligible for it in March.
This unexpected revelation comes from the justice and correctional services authorities who submitted the documents to South Africa's highest judicial authority, the Constitutional Court.
The background to this significant revelation revolves around Pistorius's incarceration following his conviction for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. In a case that riveted the world, Pistorius fatally shot Steenkamp through the bathroom door of his residence on Valentine’s Day in 2013. The athlete has always maintained that he mistook her for an intruder. This case saw multiple twists and turns, with appeals and sentence revisions, eventually leading to Pistorius receiving a 13-year sentence in 2017
However, the recent documents suggested a miscalculation concerning when Pistorius began his sentence. According to South African law, offenders with sentences exceeding two years must serve at least half of their term to qualify for parole. Pistorius's appeal asserts that he met this criterion by March 31, 2023. Contrarily, a parole board hearing in March ruled that he wouldn't be eligible until August next year.
A critical oversight, as highlighted by the documents, pertains to when Pistorius’s murder sentence officially started. The Supreme Court of Appeal, in what is now being termed an "obvious mistake," ruled that his sentence began on November 24, 2017, instead of the actual start in July 2016. This discrepancy left out 16 months where Pistorius was incarcerated.
Although this court error seems evident, the Supreme Court of Appeal has not rectified it officially. Thus, the parole board, lacking a revised judgment, had no choice but to deem Pistorius ineligible for parole in March.
Pistorius directly appealed to the Constitutional Court, seeking an immediate consideration for parole, and today the constitutional court made a judgement in the favour of Oscar and he is now eligible for parole
In March, both Barry and June Steenkamp, parents of Reeva, opposed Pistorius's parole. Tragically, Barry Steenkamp passed away recently , having previously expressed his wish for Pistorius to serve his complete sentence.
Waiting for Release
As the world awaits the possible release of Oscar on parole, the saga of the Pistorius case continues to unfold, keeping South Africa and the world keenly watching.