Oscar Pistorius has been secretly moved to a prison in Gqeberha (previously Port Elizabeth) in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, so that he can have a meeting with the parents of the late Reeva Steenkamp whom he was convicted of murdering.
The disgraced Paralympian, who shot the former model to death in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013, while she was behind a locked bathroom door in his house, is in the process of earning parole.
As part of that process 35-year-old Pistorius needs to undertake a face-to-face meeting with Reeva’s parents Barry, 78, and June, 74, to give them a chance to ask him questions. He maintained during the trial that it was a mistake, and the thought she was an intruder.
Former horse racing trainer Barry and mum-of-two June from Gqeberha, are not under any obligation to agree to the meeting, but said in a statement earlier this month that they were “willing to participate in the Victim Offender Dialogue as part of the process”. Their attorney, Tania Koen, said Barry had questions.
Pistorius has been serving his 13-year and five month sentence at the “comfy” Atteridgeville Correctional Centre in Pretoria, but is now within months of being freed from his prison term.
Reeva’s elderly father Barry, who has been treated for a heart condition and wife June, reportedly said that the long journey to meet him face-to-face at Atteridgeville would be exhausting. So the South African prison authorities decided to bring Pistorius closer go the Steenkamp’s home, under high security and with the utmost secrecy to make sure the highly charged meeting could happen.
An hour before dawn on Friday Pistorius was apparently “ghosted” out of the prison and driven the 750 miles to St Albans Correctional Centre which is just a 15-minute drive from the Steenkamp’s home.
The 13-hour journey saw Pistorius being transported in a prison van with a two car police escort before he arrived at the notorious PE prison facility shortly before nightfall.
St Albans is known as one of the five most dangerous prisons in South Africa and houses 3,200 of the most dangerous killers and rapists in the criminal justice system. Some describe it as a “hell hole”. There are often riots and running battles between rival gangs inside the run-down jail and warders have been murdered trying to keep control. The killing and rape of inmates is also believed to be common.
Pistorius was taken away from the main high security jail population, where it is said the cells hold up to 44 dangerous prisoners each, to a secure single cell for safety.
Pistorius, who shot Reeva in a hail of 9mm bullets through the bathroom door, wrote to the Steenkamp’s asking to meet, it was first reported in early November. If her parents feel he has shown remorse, it will go a long way to helping the Parole Board decide to let the one-time Olympic legend free.
The date of the meeting is not known, but it’s understood that Reeva’s parents will be driven to the Medium B security wing of the prison next week
They were contacted by the SA Department of Correctional Services in October and asked if they would agree to meet Pistorius, to which they said they needed time to consider it.
The Steenkamps told advocate Koen that the letter from Oscar out of the blue was like “ripping a Band Aid” off a wound, and they had not expected any contact.
However, after considering the request, Reeva’s parents apparently decided to take what could be the one and only opportunity to try and get Oscar to finally tell the truth and perhaps gain the closure they need.
A warder at St Albans told HeraldLive: ”Pistorius arrived late on Friday and is being temporarily kept in a single cell far away from everyone else.”
Koen confirmed that Pistorius had moved prisons, and said both Barry and June were “fully aware” that their daughter’s killer had been transferred from Gauteng to the Eastern Cape.
Koen added: “There will be no further comment on this matter”.
Department of Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo confirmed they had to work out logistical arrangements to move jails for Pistorius for the parole meeting.
Pistorius became unexpectedly eligible for parole in July after the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled the 506 days he already served before being sentenced to 13-years 5 months had not been counted.
Therefore when it was added to what he has subsequently served it means he has served half his sentence and is entitled to request parole and go before the Parole Board.
Pistorius was initially sentenced to five years prison in October 2014, for culpable homicide, but the State challenged the verdict and in 2015 on appeal it was changed to murder and 13-years 5 months.
His repeated trials gripped South Africa and the world as he claimed he was only trying to “protect” Reeva, thinking an intruder was in his bathroom. The former model was shot four times.
Before the murder, Pistorius was an international hero, nicknamed Blade Runner after being fitted with prosthetics to allow him to walk, then run, after both his lower legs were amputated when he was 11 months old, due to a condition at birth.
He went on to become a Paralympic World Cup gold medal champ in the 100m and 200m and was the first double amputee to run in an able-bodied Olympic Games.
But the world-famous athlete’s life came crashing down on him on Valentine’s Day, 2013, when he fatally shot his girlfriend Reeva at his exclusive home in Pretoria, after apparently running from the bedroom to where he heard the noise in the bathroom on his stumps.
The former golden boy of world sport has been serving his term at the low security Atteridgeville Correctional Centre in Pretoria where he has his own cell and a vegetable patch to tend.
His father Henke revealed in 2018 that he has become a spiritual leader and now runs a bible study group and helps other inmates with their reading and writing.
A source inside the prison revealed:”Oscar is a model prisoner and the only hurdle in his way of receiving parole at the earliest date depends on his victim’s family.
“They are entitled to make submissions into whether he should be released or not and they can carry a lot of weight with the parole board making judgement,” he said..
Reeva’s mother and father have already said that as Christians they have forgiven him.
Earlier this year they went on Good Morning Britain, a TV show in the UK, speaking from their Port Elizabeth home, saying they believed Pistorius had shown no remorse for his crime.
They confirmed their daughter’s former boyfriend had written them a letter from prison with June (who is originally from the UK) adding: ”I think he would only show remorse if it helps him get out of jail.
“We haven’t had the full story. I don’t believe he has told the truth.He changed his mind three times under oath to a different story in court.
“That’s what we want, the truth. This has been a horror story for us,” she said..
Host Susanna Reid then asked the parents if they could ever forgive Pistorius.
June replied: “Sorry is not enough in my case. It’s not enough for losing her life. Her future was ahead of her.
“Now she has no wedding, we have no grandchildren and she would never have her wedding dress.
“She had nothing and he took everything away from her and us and that is something that is important to me, the things she never had.
‘I forgave him through God because I believe in God and I’m Christian and had to, but it doesn’t mean that he hasn’t got to pay for what he’s done.
“He has showed no remorse and we don’t believe his story,” she said.
Their lawyer (Koen) said recently when news of a meeting to be held between Pistorius and the Steenkamps became public that they had agreed to it.
She said: “Barry has said for years he wants to meet Oscar and he has questions to ask. They are not emotionally prepared but will meet him.”
If Pistorius is freed he will remain on licence for life and can be recalled if he commits any other crime. He has told friends he would like to teach sport to the disadvantaged.
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