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Jan 5, 2024, 9:28am EST
Africa
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Oscar Pistorius released on parole 11 years after murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Insights from The Citizen, SABC News, and The Conversation

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Oscar Pistorius
REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
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The News

South African Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius — who murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Feb. 14, 2013 — has been released on parole after being behind bars for more than seven years as part of his 13-year sentence.

The South African criminal justice system released few details about his release, only confirming that Pistorius was now “at home.” He will remain under parole until 2029 and is required to abstain from alcohol, attend therapy for anger management and gender-based violence issues, be limited from leaving his home in Pretoria, and barred from talking to the media.

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Pistorius’ trial and ultimate conviction sent shockwaves across the world, with people fascinated about his turn from a celebrated national hero to a murderer. In South Africa, his case ignited a public debate about gender violence and racial overtones in the criminal justice system.

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Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Steenkamp’s family accepts the parole, but the pain is “still raw”

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Source:  
The Citizen

Reeva Steenkamp’s mother, June Steenkamp, had initially opposed Pistorius’ bid for parole in her belief that he had deliberately killed Reeva. But in a statement Friday, she said that although the pain of her daughter’s death was “still raw,” she had accepted that parole is part of South Africa’s legal system and she would not contest his release. But she questioned if Pistorius had spent enough time in prison, saying, “There can never be justice if your loved one is never coming back, and no amount of time served will bring Reeva back. We, who remain behind, are the ones serving a life sentence.”

Parole sends wrong message to victims of gender-based violence in country with high femicide rate

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Source:  
SABC News

Steenkamp’s murder was considered a wake up call for the high rates of gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa. But Pistorius’ release is a setback for survivors and activists working to strengthen laws against GBV, one women’s rights organization leader told SABC news. “We really lack greatly in accountability,” she said, adding that Pistorius’ parole is a message to those who might commit femicide that “you won’t serve your full sentence.” South Africa ranks among one of the most dangerous countries for women in the world with a femicide rate of about 9.1 murders per 100,000 women, according to 2021 data. That rate far outweighs countries like Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, and Brazil.

South Africa’s racial politics inescapable in Pistorius case

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Sources:  
The Guardian, The Conversation

That Pistorius’ initial trial was presided over by a Black woman — Judge Thokozile Masipa — was “a source of pride for many black South Africans,” journalist Mondli Makhanya wrote for the Guardian in 2014. But that turned into “a target of derision” after she acquitted him of murder and found him guilty of manslaughter. Many argued that South Africa’s legal system still had undercurrents of racism because of the perception that “white wealth equals access to superior justice.” The case’s racial overtones were only amplified when the state successfully appealed Masipa’s ruling before a white male judge, ultimately upgrading Pistorius’ charge to murder. The appeals judge, while disagreeing with Masipa’s ruling, had to defend her “competence and ability” in court filings because “South Africa remains an inherently prejudiced society in which incompetency is associated with race,” law researcher Fola Adeleke wrote in 2015.

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