Oscar Pistorius: Reeva Steenkamp's parents to meet her killer

8 months ago 3163

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Oscar Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp dead on 14 February 2013

Reeva Steenkamp's parents are preparing to meet her murderer, the former Paralympics star Oscar Pistorius.

The South African athlete has been moved to a prison closer to Barry and June Steenkamp to enable the meeting to go ahead.

It is part of a process that could lead to the 35-year-old's eventual release on parole.

Pistorius has served half his 13 years and five months sentence, handed to him for the 2013 Valentine's Day killing.

The Steenkamp family lawyer has previously said the announcement he was being considered for release came as a shock, but that they were willing to participate in what the South African authorities describe as "restorative justice".

As part of this, offenders are expected to speak to their victims or their relatives. They must also acknowledge the harm they have caused, the department of correctional services said.

He has been moved from a prison in the capital, Pretoria to one in the port city of Gqeberha, previously known as Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape.

Pistorius shot his girlfriend Ms Steenkamp dead in 2013, saying he mistook her for a burglar at his Pretoria home.

He fired four times through a locked toilet door.

In 2014, at the conclusion of a trial that was followed around the world, he was given a five-year term for manslaughter. But Pistorius was found guilty of murder on appeal in 2015 and the sentence was later increased to 13 years and five months.

When the possibility of Pistorius' release first came up earlier this month, the Steenkamps' lawyer, Tania Koen, told national broadcaster SABC that they "would like to participate in the victim-offender dialogue".

"June [Steenkamp, Reeva's mother] has always said that she has forgiven Oscar, however that doesn't mean that he mustn't pay for what he has done... Barry [Steenkamp, Reeva's father] battles with that a bit, but that is something he will have to voice at the appropriate time," Ms Koen added.

"The wound, even though so much time has passed, is still very raw."

The lawyer also told the UK's Daily Mirror newspaper that the Steenkamps had received a letter from Pistorius which she described as being "emotionally distressing" for them.

According to AFP, social workers are expected to speak to the family before the meeting goes ahead.

The authorities have not said when the meeting will take place, simply saying "the timeframe... will be guided by the level of preparedness by all participants".

Image source, AFP

Image caption,

Oscar Pistorius' trial and subsequent hearings attracted huge media interest

The department of correctional services asked people not to put pressure on those taking part to reveal what was said.

Prior to the murder, Pistorius was well known as a Paralympic gold medallist. In 2012, he made history by becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics running on prosthetic "blades".

His legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old because he was born without fibula bones.

Rise and fall of Oscar Pistorius

  • August 2012: Competes in London Olympics and Paralympics, where he won a gold medal
  • February 2013: Shoots dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
  • March 2014: Trial begins
  • September 2014: Judge finds Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide
  • October 2014: Begins five-year sentence
  • October 2015: Transferred to house arrest
  • December 2015: Appeal court changes verdict to murder
  • July 2016: Sentenced to six years in jail for murder
  • November 2017: Sentence more than doubled to 13 years, five months

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