PRETORIA (AFP) - Oscar Pistorius's family on Tuesday (Oct 20) welcomed his release from jail and said he would strictly abide by the house arrest conditions under which he will serve the rest of his five-year sentence for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
"The family is happy that Oscar is home but they want to make the point that Oscar's sentence continues," family spokesman Anneliese Burgess said outside the home of Pistorius' uncle, where the athlete was taken to late Monday.
"His sentence hasn't been shortened or reduced, he continues to serve his sentence."
“The family had been expecting his release today. They were however informed that the details of any release are decided on by the (prison) facility concerned, and this led to Oscar being released a few hours earlier.”
Pistorius, 28, was released one year after being jailed for shooting dead Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, at his home in Pretoria in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013.
Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide – a charge equivalent to manslaughter – after telling the court that he shot Steenkamp four times through a bathroom door because he mistook her for an intruder.
He faces a further test at the Supreme Court on Nov 3 when prosecutors will appeal for a murder conviction and a tougher sentence that could see him jailed for at least 15 years.
Tania Koen, a lawyer representing the Steenkamp family, said Reeva’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, whether it happened last month or next year,” Koen told AFP on Tuesday. “They were prepared for this, because they knew it was going to happen.”
Pistorius’s parole conditions are reported to allow him to meet with June and Barry Steenkamp if they wish. Koen said there were no immediate plans for a meeting. “If anything happens, it will have to be after the appeal proceedings, once they are finalised. Right now, they are focused on healing,” she said.
The Department of Correctional Services earlier announced Pistorius would undergo “continued psychotherapy” and face restrictions on owning firearms.
Pistorius was jailed on Oct 21 last year after a six-month trial that made headlines around the world.
The prosecution said he killed Steenkamp in a fit of rage, firing the four shots through the locked door. They described the double amputee as an egotistical liar obsessed with guns, fast cars and beautiful women, who was not prepared to take responsibility for his actions.
During proceedings, Pistorius often broke down, weeping and at times vomiting as he heard how her head “exploded” like a watermelon under the impact of his hollow-point bullets.
The court heard transcripts of phone messages in which the pair argued, Steenkamp, 29, texting: “I’m scared of you sometimes, of how you snap at me.”
Defence lawyers sought to explain there are “two Oscars” – a world-class athlete, and a vulnerable individual with a serious disability who acted out of fear, not anger, when he fired the fatal shots.