Oscar Pistorius has met the father of his late partner Reeva Steenkamp as the South African athlete seeks parole nine years after killing her.
The Paralympic gold medalist was jailed after he shot the 29-year-old model four times through a locked bathroom door at his home in Pretoria in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013.
He insisted he believed her to be a trespasser and was initially convicted of culpable homicide – a charge similar to manslaughter. But in 2015, the decision was ruled murder by South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal, and his prison sentence was later increased to 13 years and five months.
Now, as part of South Africa’s parole application process – known as the victim-offender dialogue – Reeva’s father, Barry Steenkamp, is said to have met Pistorius.
The couple met on June 22, according to Steenkamp family lawyer Tania Koen.
“Dialogue is a private and confidential matter, which is why we ask that our clients’ privacy be respected,” Ms. Koen told The Associated Press.
The process is part of South Africa’s restorative justice system and aims to give victims of crimes or their loved ones a chance to meet the perpetrators in a controlled environment before they can be eligible for parole, helping them turn the page.
A parole hearing for Pistorius was scheduled for last year but was canceled because he had yet to meet Steenkamp’s parents.
He was moved from Atteridgeville Correctional Center in Pretoria to a facility in the southern town of Gqeberha, the Steenkamps’ hometown, ahead of the meeting. He has now been returned to the capital’s low-security prison, the South African Department of Corrections has announced.
Confirming that the meeting had taken place, a department spokesperson stressed that Pistorius would continue to serve his sentence, as participating in the process did not amount to an end of sentence or a placement on parole.
“It is necessary to emphasize that prisoners are required to participate in VOD as part of their rehabilitation journey in which they are able to recognize the harm they have caused to their victims and to society as a whole”, he told the SchedulesLIVE newspaper.
In a Facebook post, the Reeva Rebecca Steenkamp Foundation expressed “love and support for Barry and June, who were involved in the process of preparing to meet Oscar Pistorius.” He added, “Barry finally met with Oscar on June 22, 2022 for the victim-offender dialogue.
“A word of sincere gratitude to the Department of Corrections, in particular the staff at St Albans Prison, for facilitating the process in a sensitive and professional manner.”
During his lengthy televised trial in 2014, Pistorius used his testimony to apologize to Steenkamp’s family, telling the court: “There hasn’t been a moment since this tragedy happened. without my thinking of your family.”
Additional reports per AP