Oscar Pistorius Release Put on Hold

On what would have been Reeva Steenkamp’s 32nd birthday today, South Africa’s Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Adv. Michael Masutha has said in a media statement that the decision to release her killer, Oscar Pistorius, in two days’ time was made prematurely.

Reeva Steenkamp
Reeva Steenkamp. Source: screenshot from youtube/skynews

Minister Masutha has referred the decision to the Correctional Supervision and Parole Review Board (CSPRB) for review.

The Correctional Supervision and Parole Board (CSPB) of Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre had taken a decision to place Mr Pistorius under correctional supervision.

In the statement, the Minister confirms that “on the 17th August 2015 the Minister received a petition from the Progressive Women’s’ Movement of South Africa (PWMSA), wherein they expressed their opposition to the imminent release of Mr Pistorius.

“In their submission they request Minister in his capacity as the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, not to approve his release citing the Parole Boards’ insensitivity to the release of the offender during women’s’ month”.

PWMSA urged the Minister to check if the CSPB decision and process followed had been in compliance with the law.

The statement said that after perusing the offender’s profile, the Minister established that Pistorius was sentenced to five years imprisonment in terms of section 276(1)(i) of the CPA, and that “a person sentenced to incarceration under section 276(1)(i) of the Criminal Procedure Act, must serve at least one sixth of his or her sentence before being considered for placement under correctional supervisor, unless the court directs otherwise.”

The statement said “it is apparent therefore 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.”

One sixth of a five-year sentence is 10 months. But at the time the decision was made Pistorius had only served six months of his sentence.

The Minister cannot make a decision to approve or disapprove the CSPBs’ decision (except for offenders serving life sentences), but he is able to refer these matters to the Correctional Supervision and Parole Review Board (CSPRB) for a review of the decision of the CSPB…which is what he has done.

“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,” said the statement.

It has not yet been announced when the Board will hold their review. It has been reported that they have to meet within four months.

When the news was first announced that Pistorius was due to be moved to house arrest on Friday, the reaction was mixed. Many came out in support of Pistorius, reminding others that he would have to live with the guilt for the rest of his life that he killed his former girlfriend (two years ago on 14 February, 2013), while others were outraged…as evidenced by some of the tweets in the screenshot below:

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 15.18.25

Reeva’s parents responded earlier in the week with a statement saying “We are still struggling with coming to terms with losing our precious daughter Reeva and her loss is felt even more this week as we would have celebrated her 32nd birthday on 19 August.”

Today they were photographed taking a stroll on a Port Elizabeth beach to commemorate her birthday.