Oscar Pistorius’ release from prison was put on hold Wednesday by South Africa’s Department of Justice, which said his case must be reviewed again by a parole board because he was approved to be moved to house arrest too early.
South African Minister of Justice, Michael Masutha said he had chose to stop his release, saying the decision was “premature”.
News of the postponed release came to the Steenkamp family as they held a beachside commemoration for Reeva on Wednesday, what would have been her 32nd birthday.
Prosecutors filed an appeal this week asking for the verdict of culpable homicide, equivalent to manslaughter, changed to murder because they argue Pistorius must have known when he fired that the person behind the door could be killed. The athlete’s release was approved eight months into his five-year prison sentence, when he should have served 10 months before even being considered for release, said justice department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga.
South Africa’s judicial inspectorate reveals that Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has been granted various demands, including a new bed and bath, while in prison.
The prison parole board had permitted Pistorius’ release.
In June, a parole board granted him an early release, citing that a prisoner can be let go with good behavior after serving one-sixth of the sentence.
But leading South African lawyer William Booth believes Pistorius could be in jail for YEARS unless his lawyers brought an emergency application to have his parole case heard soon.
The review panel will look at whether the parole process was properly followed and the law applied correctly, said Mmule Motsamai Madisa, regional head of Correctional Services.
Pistorius, who has served 10 months behind bars, escaped a murder conviction after testifying that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he fired the gun.
Lawyers representing Pistorius have not indicated if they intend opposing the justice minister’s decision.
“The family will take their time to calmly consider the way forward”, she said.