Convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius has been transferred to a prison closer to the parents of Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot to death in 2013, to allow for a face-to-face meeting ahead of his being released on parole.
Pistorius, the former South Africa Olympian and Paralympian, has served half of his 15-year sentence for the murder of Steenkamp at their home eight years ago, and is thus eligible for parole.
He must, as part of the conditions of his release, participate in a restorative justice programme, and an element is to meet with the family of the parolee’s victim(s). June and Barry Steenkamp, Reeva’s parents, live in Gqeberha [formerly Port Elizabeth], so Pistorius has been transferred there from Pretoria, which is 1200km [700mi] away.
Department of Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said in a statement: “The transfer is necessitated by the need to commence with the processes of a victim-offender-dialogue as the victims are based in Gqeberha.
“Offenders participate in the victim-offender-dialogue as part of their rehabilitation path, wherein they are able to acknowledge the harm they have caused to their victims and the society at large.”
The Steenkamp’s lawyer, Tania Koen, recently told national broadcaster SABC that the parents had a number of questions to ask Pistorius, but that the process of meeting with their daughter’s killer was difficult for them.
Koen said: “June has always said that she has forgiven Oscar, however that doesn’t mean that he mustn’t pay for what he has done.
“Barry battles with that [forgiveness] a bit, but that is something he will have to voice at the appropriate time. The wound, even though so much time has passed, is still very raw.”
Nxumalo added that the process could not be rushed, and that there was no timeframe for when the Steenkamps would meet with Pistorius.
He said: “Victim-offender dialogues are sensitive, emotional and inconsolable; hence they are presided [over] by highly trained officials who ought to ensure that all parties derive value from the process.
“DCS is unable to pre-empt the timeframe as this will be guided by the level of preparedness by all participants.”