Reeva Steenkamp’s parents ‘frustrating’ Oscar Pistorius parole bid, claims lawyer

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Oscar Pistorius was convicted of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp  (AFP via Getty Images)
Oscar Pistorius was convicted of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp (AFP via Getty Images)

Oscar Pistorius’s lawyer has claimed the convicted murderer’s parole is being “unfairly” stalled by the refusal of his victim’s parents to meet him in person.

Julian Knight, the former athlete’s lawyer, accused Ms Steenkamp’s parents of a “deliberate attempt to punish him and frustrate the process”.

Pistorius, 35, was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2016 for the fatal shooting of Ms Steenkamp, 29, in 2013. He has served half of his sentence and could soon be eligible for early release.

Pistorius, known as “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fibre prosthetic legs, was moved to a prison located closer to Ms Steenkamp’s family last November ahead of reconciliation talks that could help pave the way for his early release.

He is set to speak to Ms Steenkamp’s parents in a process known as victim-offender dialogue – a key part of the South African justice system that attempts to bring parties affected by a crime together to achieve closure.

Mr Knight told The Times that his client had been met with “one delay after another”.

“The question can be asked whether this is being done to punish my client, to deliberately frustrate the parole process,” he said.

Parents of murdered Reeva Steenkamp, June (L) and Barry Steenkamp stand in the court room at Pretoria High Court (AFP via Getty Images)
Parents of murdered Reeva Steenkamp, June (L) and Barry Steenkamp stand in the court room at Pretoria High Court (AFP via Getty Images)

He went on to claim that his client has a “squeaky clean prison record and meets all the requirements for parole”.

Tania Koen, the Steenkamp’s lawyer, told the newspaper that they were still seeking a meeting with Mr Pistorius but questioned whether he was eligible for release. In December, she said the Steenkamps felt “they have to do it for Reeva”.

Singabakho Nxumalo, a spokesman for South Africa’s department of correctional services, has said in the past that the process is “very sensitive” and that relatives of victims are under no obligation to commit to face-to-face meetings.

The granting of parole for the former athlete would not hinge entirely on whether a victim-offender dialogue takes place, as the board will review other recommendations by prison authorities, psychologists and social workers, The Times reported.

Mr Pistorius, a gold medallist, shot Ms Steenkamp four times through a locked bathroom door in 2013. He claimed that he believed she was an intruder but was jailed in 2016, initially for a six-year term.

The sentence was later upgraded to 13 years after an appeal by prosecutors.

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