Justice minister delays Pistorius’s release

Oscar Pistorius was expected to be released from prison on Friday, but will have to stay in jail — at least for now.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha announced on Wednesday that he had referred the decision to release the Paralympian athlete for review.

Pistorius has served 10 months of his five-year sentence for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp  and was to be placed under correctional supervision on Friday. However, Masutha believes Pistorius was not eligible for consideration at the time of the parole board’s decision to release him.

Masutha received a petition from the Progressive Women’s Movement of South Africa on August 17 objecting to Pistorius’s release during Women’s Month.

Although the petition has no legal influence, it prompted Masutha to look into the matter.  

The minister said it appeared that there was no sound legal basis for the parole as Pistorius had not been eligible for consideration at the time of the parole board’s decision to release him.

The parole board made the decision to release Pistorius on June 5 2015, when Pistorius had served just over six months of his five-year sentence. This was in contravention of Section 73(7)(a), which required him to have served one-sixth of his five-year sentence before being considered for placement under correctional supervision, unless the court directed otherwise, Masutha said.

He had therefore referred the decision to release Pistorius on Friday to a correctional supervision and parole review board.

Steenkamp’s family were “excited” that Pistorius would not be released on Friday, ANC Women’s League Gauteng spokesperson Jacqui Mofokeng said.

“They called me, I cannot tell you how excited they are,” she said. “They phoned me to say ‘thank you, thank you’.”

Steenkamp’s uncle said justice would take its course. “We have been away. We were doing something in celebration of Reeva, because it’s her birthday today [Wednesday]. They [her parents] are doing the same thing in Port Elizabeth,” Michael Steenkamp said.

“Without knowing the details, I think justice will serve its course. I am sure that the details must be ironed out, regardless of what the situation is. Where he [Pistorius] is at, procedure must be followed.” – Additional reporting by News24.com

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