By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK | 9 January 2024 (IDN) — South African professional sprinter Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius has been released from prison after serving half of his more than 13-year sentence for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius shot Ms. Steenkamp multiple times through a locked bathroom door in his house after mistaking her for a burglar during the night.
The shooting and subsequent trials gripped South Africa and the world.
The double amputee won six gold medals over three Paralympic Games and made history in 2012 by becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics in London.
Until his sentence expires in 2029, he will live under strict rules—confined to his home for certain hours of the day and banned from drinking alcohol. He is also not permitted to speak to the media.
In addition, Pistorius will be required to have therapy to help deal with issues around gender-based violence and anger.
Ms Steenkamp’s mother said she accepted the decision to release the former athlete – but added her family was the one “serving a life sentence”.
Due to a congenital condition, Pistorius’s lower legs were amputated when he was less than a year old. He subsequently relied on prosthetics and became a world-renowned athlete known as the “Blade Runner”.
After becoming a Paralympic champion, Pistorius attempted to enter nondisabled international competitions, over persistent objections by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and arguments that his artificial limbs gave an unfair advantage. Pistorius prevailed in this legal dispute.
South Africa has a particular problem with femicide and violence against women, writes Danai Nesta Kupemba of the BBC. In 2020, a woman died at the hands of her intimate partner on average every eight hours, according to a study by the University of the Free State.
In 2019, South Africa ranked among the five countries with the highest rates of the murder of women, according to the United Nations.
That is why Pistorius being let out of prison “feels like a kick to the gut”, said activist Michael van Niekerk.
Van Niekerk is the founder of Keep the Energy, an organization that spreads awareness about violence against women, children and LGBTQ+ people in South Africa.
South Africa also has extremely high levels of rape—in the three-month period between July and September last year, for example, more than 10,500 incidents were reported to the police.
Meanwhile, the mother of Reeva Steenkamp said she did not oppose her daughter’s killer being freed. “No amount of time served will bring Reeva back. We, who remain behind, are the ones serving a life sentence.” [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo: Pistorius running in the Olympic Stadium during the heats of the 400 metres at the 2012 Summer Olympics on 4 August. CC BY-SA 2.0
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