PRETORIA, October 9 -The South African parole board on Friday again postponed a decision on whether to release Oscar Pistorius, saying that it would consult the family of his girlfriend whom he shot dead two years ago.
The Paralympian star’s lawyers have argued that he should have been allowed out on house arrest in August after serving one-sixth of his five-year jail sentence for killing Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013.
But he remained behind bars after Justice Minister Michael Masutha made a last-minute intervention and the case was referred for review.
“The parole board is consulting with the family of the victim. It is expected that the Steenkamp family will make a submission… early next week,” the Correctional Services department said in a statement.
It added that Pistorius and his lawyer had attended Friday’s parole board hearing in Pretoria central prison.
The board will meet again to consider his case on October 15.
Steenkamp’s parents say Pistorius murdered their daughter on purpose and have previously contested any parole.
“I wish I knew what will happen, but there has been so many surprises in this case that I can’t predict anything,” Brian Webber, a lawyer representing Pistorius, told AFP on Friday before the latest delay.
“I do think correctional services have probably considered how unfairly he has been treated.
“I would be extraordinarily surprised if he wasn’t released. He should have been released on August 21.”
– State appeal awaits –
Earlier this week Pistorius’s family accused officials of bowing to “political and media hype” by denying him parole.
In a trial that made headlines around the world, Pistorius was jailed last year for killing Steenkamp, a model and law graduate.
He was found guilty of culpable homicide — a charge equivalent to manslaughter — after saying he shot her through a locked bathroom door because he mistook her for an intruder.
Even if he is released, Pistorius faces a further test on November 3 when prosecutors appeal to South Africa’s supreme court for a murder conviction and a harsher sentence.
A champion Paralympian and once a poster boy for sport, Pistorius, known as the “Blade Runner” for the prosthetic legs he wore on the track, rose to global fame when he raced against able-bodied competitors in the 2012 London Olympics.
A parole review on Monday ordered him to undergo further psychotherapy and recommended he should be put under firearm restrictions if allowed out.
The trial revealed the world-famous athlete to have a volatile personality and a penchant for guns.
He was accused of firing a gun through the sunroof of an ex-girlfriend’s moving car in 2011 and, weeks before he shot Steenkamp, he accidentally discharged a gun at a Johannesburg restaurant.