Pistorius' family happy he's home from prison

Oscar Pistorius has spent less than a year in prison and will serve the rest of his five-year sentence under house arrest.
Oscar Pistorius has spent less than a year in prison and will serve the rest of his five-year sentence under house arrest.

PRETORIA • The family of Oscar Pistorius, South Africa's "Blade Runner", said yesterday they were happy that he was home from prison, and that the athlete would adhere strictly to his parole conditions.

The disgraced Paralympic gold medallist was released into house arrest on Monday evening, just short of a year into his five-year sentence for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

He must serve the rest of his five-year sentence under house arrest, but still faces an appeal on Nov 3 by prosecutors who argue that he should have been convicted of murder, not culpable homicide.

Pistorius, 28, who was found guilty of the lesser charge - when he fired four shots through a locked bathroom door and hit Ms Steenkamp - will be confined to his uncle Arnold's home in a wealthy suburb of the capital, Pretoria.

Pistorius had been expected to leave prison yesterday, and his early release took media by surprise. Parole conditions already announced include that the gun enthusiast must undergo psychotherapy and is not allowed to possess a firearm.

Family spokesman Anneliese Burgess said yesterday that the family were glad to have him home and that the athlete would observe his parole conditions closely.

"The family is happy that Oscar is home, but they want to make the point that his sentence continues," Ms Burgess said outside the house. "Oscar will adhere strictly to the conditions of his parole."

A neighbour who declined to be named told Reuters it was sad that Pistorius was freed after having served less than a year in prison. "This is hardly a prison," she said of the leafy suburb of Waterkloof.

Ms Tania Koen, a lawyer representing the Steenkamp family, said the victim's parents were "still dealing with her loss".

"They feel that his release from prison makes no difference, as it won't bring back their child," Ms Koen told Agence France-Presse.

The athlete, whose lower legs were amputated when he was a baby, was freed in line with South African sentencing guidelines that say non-dangerous prisoners should spend only one-sixth of a custodial sentence behind bars.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2015, with the headline 'Pistorius' family happy he's home from prison'. Print Edition | Subscribe