Convicted murderer and former Paralympian, Oscar Pistorius could be released next year after being praised as a ‘model prisoner’, according to reports.
The South African athlete, who became a global superstar after winning several gold medals for racing on prosthetics, is serving a sentence of 13 years and 5 months for shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his home in 2013.
Pistorius is to take state authorities to court to allow him to ask for early release, arguing he has served more than half of his sentence and is therefore eligible for parole.
Pistorius’ sentence was more than doubled from six years in 2017 following a Supreme Court ruling which upgraded his charge from culpable homicide to murder.
Last year, a judge ruled his term should be backdated to October 2014, when he began his initial sentence.
His lawyers say this means he should have been able to apply for parole starting in February last year.
According to reports by South Africa’s News24 website, if the 35 year old athlete does secure a hearing, he will have the full support of rehabilitation officials who worked with him at Atteridgeville Correctional Centre in Pretoria,
The report says Pistorius has been described as safe for release back into society by prison social worker Clara Erenst, prison psychologist VK Mabunda, his unit manager a Mrs Makgatho and sports and recreation co-ordinator TP Hlako.
As part of parole conditions, Pistorius must meet with his former girlfriend’s parents as part of the parole procedure. A parole hearing for Pistorius was scheduled for last month and then canceled, partly because a meeting between Pistorius and Steenkamp’s parents, Barry and June, had not been arranged, lawyers for both parties told
According to the report, Mr Mabunda wrote: ‘Mr Pistorius does not display any major unresolved criminogenic needs, rather he displays protective factors which could reduce his risk of re-offending (support from family).’
The documents are said to reveal an array of insights into his life behind bars, including that he had a job driving a tractor on a prison farm, where he was allowed to tend an allotment.
He also worked as a cleaner at a ‘special care unit’ and took part in a book club where he helped illiterate inmates learn to read and write.
Ms Makgatho said Pistorius had attended all work and recreational programmes recommended to him and had shown himself to be a ‘trustworthy individual who can defuse tense situations’.
She added: ‘The offender is ready to be re-integrated into society and will be a positive influence in the community and he has adapted well in the unit.’
The double-amputee killed Reeva Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013, saying he mistook her for an intruder when he fired four times through the door of his bedroom toilet.
In the parole document Mr Hlako reportedly wrote: ‘I can gladly without fear nor contradiction say that he (Pistorius) will be able to contain himself outside if he is faced with challenges.
‘We have managed to train him on how to deal with all types of anxiety that are negative.
‘It is therefore my submission that should an opportunity arise for him to be given a chance to finish the remainder of his sentence outside, he should be granted such.’
Describing Pistorius’ tendency to help inmates with weightlifting techniques, the prison official added: ‘This kind of behaviour and goodwill to assist others is one of the attributes that will ultimately determine if an offender is rehabilitated or not.’
Pistorius’ bid for a parole hearing is opposed by the vice chair of Atteridgeville’s Parole Case Management Committee, Tebego Moloto and also Reeva’s parents according to the South African paper’s report .
The parents remain opposed to any parole move as they are not satisfied he has ever told the full truth on what happened to her.