Reeva Steenkamp's family 'distraught' over Oscar Pistorius news

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Oscar Pistorius, pictured here with girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp before her death.
Oscar Pistorius was convicted of the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Image: Getty

Reeva Steenhamp's family are said to be 'distraught' after it emerged that Oscar Pistorius is now eligible for parole, rather than in 2023 like they thought.

The South African Paralympic champion is now eligible for parole, eight years after being convicted of murdering girlfriend Steenkamp in their home.

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The 'Blade Runner' shot dead Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's Day in 2013 when he fired four times through the door of his bedroom toilet.

In 2015, Pistorius was found guilty of murder and later sentenced to 13 years in prison.

By July of this year, the 34-year-old had served half the term, the minimum period to be considered for parole.

The Correctional Services department was due to hold preliminary talks with Steenkamp's parents, but the meeting was postponed and has yet to be rescheduled.

The Steenkamps' family lawyer said they were shocked when contacted by the prisons services about Pistorius’ potential parole.

They believed he would not be eligible until 2023.

“But over that shock, they were distraught, especially after the department cancelled the meeting. That was a double blow,” Tania Koen said.

“It opens a lot of wounds, or rips off the plasters they had put on those wounds.”

The confusion stems from the time Pistorius spent in prison during appeals of his conviction.

Because he was incarcerated for two years while awaiting the outcomes of two separate appeals, he was eligible for parole two years earlier than the Steenkamps expected.

Reeva Steenkamp's parents June and Barry, pictured here at Oscar Pistorius' sentencing hearing.
Reeva Steenkamp's parents June and Barry at Oscar Pistorius' sentencing hearing. (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images)

Oscar Pistorius must meet with Reeva Steenkamp's family

Before the parole process can begin, the department needs to conduct dialogue with the victim's family and the offender.

"There is the issue of victim-offender dialogue that needs to take place before his profile can be taken to the parole board," prisons spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo told AFP. 

"It's quite a sensitive and emotional process."

Koen said the parole board had been due to discuss his parole on October 27 or 29.

"But because certain requirements were not met, they have stopped the process and they will have to make sure they have the necessary reports, including psychologist and social worker reports," she said.

"He has been eligible for parole since July of this year, but that does not mean he has automatic right to be released on parole."

Oscar Pistorius, pictured here in action at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Oscar Pistorius in action at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Steenkamp's parents Barry and June have previously said they want to ask Pistorius why he shot their daughter.

“They feel that Reeva has got a voice. They are Reeva’s voice, and they owe it to their beloved daughter,” said Koen.

Pistorius' lawyer Julian Knight said he believes his client meets all the requirements to be paroled.

“From what I have observed of him he has been a model prisoner while he has been in prison,” Knight said. 

“My view is that he does meet the requirements to be placed on parole but the procedures must be followed.”

Pistorius became the first double-amputee to race at the Olympics when he competed at the London Games in 2012, running on prosthetic "blades".

Once known as "Blade Runner", Pistorius became a role model for disabled people worldwide - until his murder trial, which generated international headlines.

with agencies

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