South African sprinter and convicted killer Oscar Pistorius reemerges in headlines

By: Tommy Dickman

The Olympics are the highest stage at which an athlete can perform, and Olympians are watched the world over. Sprinter Oscar Pistorius gained notoriety he was arrested for killing his girlfriend, South African model Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day in 2013. Pistorius is in the news again as he faces parole.

Judge Thokozile Masipa found Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide, the legal equivalent to manslaughter. The trial was very emotional. A graphic image of Reeva Steenkamps’s wounds shown to the court caused Pistorius to throw up. After that, the broadcast had to be slightly delayed for those who followed at home.

Pistorius appeared remorseful for his actions and claims to think of Steenkamp’s family every morning when he wakes up. Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison, but only served one year in maximum security. He later transferred to finish his sentence under house arrest.

In December 2015, South Africa’s court of appeals located in the judicial capital of Bloemfontein later overturned Masipa’s ruling and convicted Pistorius of murder. At the end of this hearing, however, the court found Pistorius guilty of murder and sentenced him to six years in prison.

In 2017, his sentence was more than doubled to 13 years and 5 months.

After serving almost half of the 13 years and 5 months sentence, Pistorius appealed for parole on March 28. The parole board denied his appeal, so Pistorius will have to continue serving his sentence until August 2024 until his next appeal is allowed.

Whether or not the murder of Reeva Steenkamp was premeditated or not, Oscar Pistorius had polarized a nation and illuminated some large problems in South African society. When Apartheid fell, South Africa entered an era of new prosperity.

Pistorius rose to fame during this period and his fall during the end of it reflected the negative sentiments the public had due to the lack of reaching some of the post-Apartheid goals. His conviction was seen as justice for some South Africans while others felt that the Pistorius case was handled differently due to sprinter’s status as a wealthy white male. Pistorius served part of his sentence at the Atteridgeville Correctional Facility, a low-security prison much like the minimum-security prisons found in the United States.


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