Oscar Pistorius denied parole over killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

South African Paralympian serving 13-year sentence for murder

Former Paralympic gold medalist Oscar Pistorius, who was convicted of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp a decade ago, has been refused parole because he has not served enough jail time to qualify for it.

In a statement released by South Africa’s Department of Correctional Services on Friday, the correctional supervision and parole board found he had not served the “minimum detention period” necessary to qualify for early release.

Pistorius is serving 13 years and five months behind bars for the murder of Ms Steenkamp, whom he shot through a bathroom door in the middle of the night at his home in Pretoria, claiming he believed she was an intruder. The authorities made their decision after a parole hearing at the low security Atteridgeville Correctional Centre, where Pistorius (36) is serving his sentence.

The parole board said it would consider Pistorius’s release from prison again in August 2024. In South Africa offenders are eligible for parole after serving half their sentence.


However, the authorities concluded Pistorius had not yet served the minimum detention period required for parole after receiving a clarification this week from the supreme court of appeal, which handed down the final sentence in his case. Pistorius’s sentence was twice increased over the course of the legal proceedings around his case.

According to the Department of Correctional Services, this had led to confusion around exactly when his sentence commenced, and as a result, when he was eligible for parole. Initially in 2014 he was found guilty of culpable homicide at the Gauteng high court and sentenced to five years in prison.

A year later, on appeal, this verdict was set aside by the Gauteng high court and Pistorius was found guilty of murder. His prison sentence was also increased to six years. However, in 2017 the supreme court of appeal found this to be “shockingly lenient” and imposed the mandatory sentence for murder of 15 years in jail.

This was reduced to 13 years and five months due to time already served. Pistorius has expressed remorse for killing Ms Steenkamp, a model and law student, on St Valentine’s Day night 2013. He has always maintained he shot her by mistake, believing she was a robber who had gained access to his home through a window.

Prosecutors, however, argued in the trial that Pistorius had in fact murdered her in a fit of rage and jealousy after they had had an argument. Ms Steenkamp’s parents, June and Barry, had opposed Pistorius’s bid for early release saying they did not believe his version of what happened on the night he killed their daughter.

June Steenkamp attended the parole hearing on Friday and ahead of the proceedings she told reporters: “I don’t believe his story. I don’t believe Oscar is remorseful … or rehabilitated”. The former double-amputee sprinter, who was known as the “Blade Runner” because of the prosthetic blades he used to race on, recently met Barry Steenkamp as part of a mandatory process known as “victim-offender dialogue”.

Bill Corcoran

Bill Corcoran

Bill Corcoran is a contributor to The Irish Times based in South Africa