Jailed South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has sent an ’emotionally distressing’ letter to the parents of his murdered girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in a bid to be freed on parole.
Pistorius, 34, has been eligible for parole since July after he was convicted of murder for shooting model Ms. Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet door at his home in Pretoria, South Africa, on Valentine’s Day 2013.
The Paralympic gold medalist sent her parents June and Barry Steenkamp a letter as part of South Africa’s ‘restorative justice’ parole process whereby prisoners must take responsibility for their actions.
Their lawyer, Tania Koen, told the Mirror: ‘I cannot divulge the contents of that letter.
‘It was quite emotionally distressing for them. They did not know it was coming and it was sent to me by his attorney.’
The attorney also said that the parents were upset to learn that Pistorius has been eligible for parole since July when they had been told he would not be released from prison until March 2023.
A parole hearing had been scheduled for last month but it was cancelled, partly because a meeting between Pistorius and Steenkamp’s parents had not been arranged. The date for a new hearing has not yet been set.
Pistorius, who has served half of his 13-year sentence after being convicted of murder in 2015, must also meet June and Barry before he is considered for release.
The Steenkamps want a face-to-face meeting with Pistorius, as is their right under South Africa’s victim-offender dialogue policy.
Ms Koen told the Mirror: ‘Yes, they want to do that face to face.
‘Barry has said for years he wants to meet Oscar and he has questions to ask. They are not emotionally prepared, but are prepared to meet Oscar.
‘They accept the day will come when Oscar will be eligible for parole and they would give their input.’
Ms. Koen said earlier this week: ‘They (Barry and June) feel that Reeva has got a voice. They are Reeva’s voice, and they owe it to their beloved daughter.’
But she said Barry and June were left upset by the way the parole board has handled Pistorius’s parole.
Ms. Koen said: ‘What was also very upsetting was the disregard for their emotional wellbeing.
‘They had to find out the parole board had already convened a date for parole and never advised them about it.
‘The proper procedure was not followed.’
The Steenkamps will be allowed to make recommendations to the parole board, although Koen wouldn’t say if they will oppose Pistorius’ release.
‘We have discussed it,’ Koen said, but declined to give details.
The opinion of victims’ families is considered by a parole board when deciding whether to release an offender,