For all the arguments about whether Oscar Pistorius should be released from prison early from his five-year sentence, one message is clear – he is not receiving preferential treatment
The athlete was expected to be released after serving 10 months of a five-year sentence for killing his model and law graduate girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013.
South Africa’s Justice Minister Michael Masutha, a qualified lawyer, said the original decision to release him after serving 10 months was taken “prematurely.” According to the South African Criminal Procedure Act, an offender must serve at least one-sixth of his sentence before he is eligible for early release. Michael Motsoeneng, a lawyer who has been following this case for a long while, believes that thousands of prisoners will receive this as good news.
“It will bring certainty when they are not being considered for parole that no-one gets special treatment,” he said.
The minister was duty-bound to intervene because the law is very clear – “the decision to release an offender may only be taken after he has served one-sixth of his sentence,” Mr. Motsoeneng
emphasised. In Pistorius’ case, the decision was taken in June – when he had served just eight months – to release him as soon as he had served the requisite 10 months.
For some, the proposal to release Pistorius so soon looks and feels unfair, but for others it is just the law. A famous athlete shot four bullets into a toilet in his bathroom knowing full well that there was a human being behind the locked door.
But after a seven-month trial, Judge Thokozile Masipa found the double-amputee not guilty of murder. She instead found him guilty of a lesser charge of
culpable homicide or manslaughter.