Oscar Pistorius is set to be released from prison next week and placed under house arrest after serving one year of his five-year jail term for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, the South African department of correctional services said.
The parole board “approved the placement of offender Oscar Pistorius under correctional supervision as from 20 October 2015,” the department said in a statement.
“The parole board considered all submissions, including the offender’s profile report, the directives of the Parole Review Board and the submission of the victim’s family.”
The Paralympian star’s lawyers had argued that he should have been released and granted house arrest in August after serving one-sixth of his jail term sentence for killing Ms Steenkamp in 2013.
But he remained behind bars after justice minister Michael Masutha made a last-minute intervention and the case was referred for review.
After meeting last week, the parole board said it wanted to consult with Ms Steenkamp’s family over Pistorius’s possible release.
Ms Steenkamp’s parents say Pistorius killed their daughter on purpose and have previously contested any parole.
“They are not surprised at all — it was expected,” Tania Koen, a lawyer acting on behalf of Ms Steenkamp’s family, said after speaking to June and Barry Steenkamp.
“But it doesn’t change anything in their lives. Their daughter is still not coming back. Whether Pistorius is incarcerated or released on parole, their daughter is still gone.”
Pistorius’s family had accused officials of bowing to “political and media hype” in denying him parole.
South African correctional services officials indicated Pistorius had been a good inmate and qualified for house arrest — a routine procedure in South Africa.
“I do think correctional services have probably considered how unfairly he has been treated. He should have been released on August 21,” Brian Webber, a lawyer representing Pistorius said last week.
Prosecutors to appeal for murder
In a trial that made headlines around the world, Pistorius, now 28, was jailed last year for killing Ms Steenkamp, a model and law graduate.
He was found guilty of culpable homicide — a charge equivalent to manslaughter — after saying he shot her through a locked bathroom door because he mistook her for an intruder.
“He’s not ‘out’ on parole … he’s having his sentence converted to a house arrest sentence,” said criminal lawyer David Dadic.
“He’s now confined to a house for a period,” Mr Dadic said.
“They’ll confine him essentially to what he would be doing in prison but in the confines of his own house.”
Prosecutors are set to appeal the verdict of culpable homicide in court on November 3, arguing it should be one of murder because Pistorius must have known that the person behind the door could be killed.
A murder conviction would result in a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.
A panel of five judges will hear the appeal — they could either reject the prosecution’s appeal, order a retrial or convict Pistorius of murder themselves, legal experts say.
Once a poster boy for Paralympic sport, Pistorius, known as the “Blade Runner” for the prosthetic legs he wore on the track, rose to global fame when he raced against able-bodied competitors in the 2012 London Olympics.