In Brief

Oscar Pistorius out of legal options as request to appeal rejected

Former star athlete loses bid to cut 13-year jail term for murder of Reeva Steenkamp

Oscar Pistorius leaves prison: what happens next?

20 October

The disgraced Olympian Oscar Pistorius left prison last night after his request to serve the rest of his sentence under house arrest was granted by a parole board.

The athlete had been expected to leave Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria today, but apparently arrived at his uncle Arnold's home just after 10pm last night.

The BBC's Karen Allen said the early departure was presumably designed to "avoid the media glare".

One official told News24 that the decision had been kept top secret, with only senior managers in South Africa's Department of Correctional Services aware that he would be released a day early.

An official spokesman for the department insisted the early release did not constitute preferential treatment. "This is not the only case where this has happened. It has happened before," said spokesman Manelisi Wolela

He added: "The handling of the actual placement is an operational matter of the local management, and how they handle it is their prerogative that is carried out in the best interest of all parties concerned, the victims, the offender and the Department of Correctional Services."

The athlete, now 28, had been in prison since October last year, when he was sentenced to five years for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February 2013.

Under South African law, offenders sentenced to five years or less are eligible to be considered for parole after serving one sixth of their sentence in custody. For Pistorius, this was after ten months.

However, the justice ministry initially blocked his release in August, arguing that the decision to release him was made before the ten-month period was over.

Pistorius will remain under correctional supervision until 20 October 2019.

The Department of Correctional Services said the Parole Board had given Pistorius his correctional supervision conditions, which include "continued psychotherapy and prohibitions in line with the Fire Arms Control Act".

In order to reach its decision, the parole board considered Pistorius's profile report, submissions from the victim's family and the directives of the Parole Review Board, which has been reviewing the case.

Steenkamp's cousin Kim Martin said she thought Pistorius was "getting off lightly". However, she said the family might consider visiting Pistorius when the time is "right".

A lawyer for Steenkamp's family said nothing had changed for the victim's parents June and Barry. "Nothing will bring Reeva back," she said. They were "not surprised at all" by the announcement that he would be leaving prison. "They expected this," she said.

Will Pistorius carry out community service?

Ahead of sentencing last year, Pistorius's defence lawyers argued that he should serve a community-based sentence, such as 16 hours of domestic cleaning a month. Annette Vergeer, a probation officer who acted as a witness in Pistorius's sentencing hearing, suggested he could even work with disabled children. She went into detail about a Gateway programme that helps children in other countries such as Mozambique. However, offenders are typically banned from leaving their ministerial district let alone the country.

One of Pistorius's lawyers told The Sunday Times in May that his client was still interested in working with children once released from prison. Rohan Kruger, who works on the defence team with lead counsel Barry Roux, told the newspaper: "Oscar is keen to become involved in assisting children in whatever opportunity will present."

Will Pistorius return to athletics?

According to South Africa's Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, correctional supervision aims to provide a means of rehabilitation within the community and allows – even encourages – the offender to be employed. The International Paralympic Committee has previously said Pistorius, known as the Blade Runner, could resume his career once he has served his sentence, and the South African Olympic Committee has confirmed that it has no regulations barring athletes with a criminal record.

Where will Pistorius live?

Pistorius looks likely to live under "virtual house arrest" at his uncle's home in the Waterkloof suburb of Pretoria. The Parole Review Board has said that he must be "subjected to psychotherapy in order to address criminogenic factors of the crime he committed".

However, his relative freedom could be "short-lived" if prosecutors are able to persuade the Supreme Court of Appeal next month that his verdict should be upgraded to murder, a conviction that carries a minimum of 15 years in prison, with no opportunity for house arrest.

Oscar Pistorius: apology issued over crime scene video

15 October

Two South African men have apologised for a "distasteful" video in which they talk about converting Oscar Pistorius's former Pretoria home into a party house for "hot girls".

David Scott and Kagiso Mokoape are renting the athlete's former Silver Woods Country Estate home, where Reeva Steenkamp was shot four times through a toilet door in 2013.

During the trial, police released graphic photographs of the crime scene, showing Pistorius's blood-soaked toilet and a 9mm gun lying on the bathroom mat.

In a video that emerged over the weekend, new tenants Scott and Mokoape are seen giving Netwerk24 a guided tour of the bathroom and the rest of the house.

The men say they will decorate the house in honour of what happened and then "invite people over". Grinning and holding a can of beer, Scott boasts: "This is definitely an entertainer's house. Oscar built this house to entertain."

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Mokoape says there will be a "party every weekend" and Scott adds that "hot girls can invite themselves".

Anneliese Burgess, a spokeswoman for the Pistorius family, described the footage as "bizarre" but declined to make any further comment, while others on social media called it "sick" and "distasteful".

Speaking to the Pretoria East Rekord on Monday, Mokoape apologised for "everything that has happened" and said there would be no parties at the house.

Pistorius sold the property to mining consultant Louwtjie Louwrens last year for R4.5 million to help pay his legal fees.

The athlete is currently in Kgosi Mampuru II prison serving a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide. A parole board hearing, expected to take place last Friday to decide whether he should be released under house arrest, has been postponed until 21 October. The board will apparently consult with the Steenkamp family before it makes its decision.

Oscar Pistorius: legal threat prompts parole board to action

09 October

Oscar Pistorius's prison parole board will meet today to reconsider whether he should be released following a warning from the his legal team.

The 28-year-old South African athlete has spent almost a year behind bars for shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on 14 February 2013.

Pistorius's lawyers argued that he should have been allowed out of prison in August to serve the rest of his five-year sentence under house arrest.

They wrote to South Africa's Department of Correctional Services warning that they would seek an urgent court hearing if the parole board did not reconvene to make a decision promptly.

The prison's Correctional Supervision and Parole Board initially recommended in June that Pistorius should be released in August. However, the country's justice minister Michael Masutha stepped in at the last minute and accused the parole board of acting prematurely.

A Parole Review Board has since backed Masutha's claim that the decision to release Pistorius should not have been made as early as June.

The board said Pistorius must be "subjected to psychotherapy in order to address criminogenic factors of the crime he committed" and that "psychotherapy intervention" could be implemented whether or not he remains in jail.

According to South Africa's Network on Reducing Reoffending, an offender's "criminogenic" needs are usually associated with changeable factors that can be targeted to reduce the risk of reoffending, such as altering anti-social attitudes, increasing self-control and self-management, and improving positive "pro-social" skills.

The case was then referred back to the Correctional Supervision and Parole Board, but until today it was unclear when the board would meet to decide Pistorius's next move.

Earlier this week, the BBC suggested the ruling was unlikely to be made before the athlete faces a separate legal appeal against his conviction on 3 November in Bloemfontein.

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