Pistorius reports for first community service
PRETORIA: Oscar Pistorius reported yesterday for his first day of community service in the South African capital Pretoria as part of his parole conditions after being released from jail three weeks ago. The Paralympian athlete was allowed out of prison after serving one year of his fiveyear sentence for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day, 2013. Pistorius, 28, arrived at Garsfontein police station in Pretoria, driven by his sister Aimee, and declined to speak to waiting reporters. He is serving the rest of his sentence under house arrest at his uncle’s home in the city. In his first appearance in public since his release, he walked into the police station wearing sunglasses and a white T-shirt, and carrying a backpack. The disgraced sprinter was found guilty last year of culpable homicide-a charge equivalent to manslaughter-after telling his trial that he shot Steenkamp through a bathroom door because he mistook her for an intruder. His parole conditions have not been released, but are reported to allow him to meet with Steenkamp’s parents June and Barry if they wish. The Department of Correctional Services has also said Pistorius would undergo “continued psychotherapy” and face restrictions on owning firearms.
Pistorius was jailed after a six-month trial that made headlines around the world. Prosecutors said he killed Steenkamp in a fit of rage, firing four shots through the locked toilet 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. The case is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court of Appeal as state prosecutors push to have the culpable homicide verdict overturned in favor of a murder conviction.
The court heard arguments from both sides last week, and is expected to take some weeks before announcing its decision. The five appeal judges could alter the original trial verdict and send the case back to the high court for a new sentence. If he was found guilty of murder, he would face a minimum of 15 years in prison. Pistorius’s family made no comment on his community service yesterday. When he was released, a family spokeswoman said he would serve the rest of his sentence “under the strict conditions that govern correctional supervision.” Pistorius shot Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, at the peak of his fame, following his historic performance in 2012 when he became the first double-amputee to race at Olympic level. During the trial, Pistorius often broke down, weeping and at times vomiting as he heard how Steenkamp was hit by hollow-point bullets he fired from the 9mm pistol that he kept under his bed. In the shooting’s aftermath, he lost his glittering sports career, lucrative contracts and status as a global role model for the disabled. His release on house arrest was in line with normal treatment of South African convicts, but was criticized by women’s rights groups and many others in the country.— AFP