JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Aug 19 – Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, serving a five-year prison term for killing his girlfriend, may not walk free as expected this week because the decision to release him was “premature”, the justice ministry said Wednesday.
Justice Minister Michael Masutha said in a statement that a June decision to release him on Friday – after he had served just one-sixth of his sentence – had “no legal basis” and would be suspended pending a parole board review.
“It is apparent… that the decision to release him on 21 August 2015 was made prematurely on 5 June 2015, when the offender was not eligible to be considered at all,” the statement said.
The decision to free the 28-year-old had angered the family of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, who was killed by Pistorius on Valentine’s Day in 2013.
He was convicted in October of culpable homicide, effectively manslaughter, after a high-profile trial, but the prosecution has appealed the verdict, seeking a murder conviction instead.
The athlete nicknamed “Blade Runner” had served just eight months instead of 10 when the decision was made to let him serve the rest of his sentence under house arrest.
“The consequence of this decision is that the earlier decision of the (parole board) to place the offender under correctional supervision is suspended until the Parole Review Board has decided on the matter,” the ministry statement said.
Ministry spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga refused to speculate on a possible date for his release, telling the ENCA news channel “it will depend on how and when the review board is going to hear the matter”.