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Four months to decide on Pistorius release

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Notice of a legal challenge to the suspension of Oscar Pistorius’s early release from prison had not yet been received by the Department of Justice and Correctional Services, spokesperson advocate Mthunzi Mhaga said on Thursday morning.

This means Pistorius could wait up to four months to hear if he would eventually be released on correctional supervision, after an initial decision to release him on Friday was suddenly suspended.

“The board has four months within which to deal and decide on the matter,” said Mhaga.

Former Paralympian Pistorius was set to have been released on Friday, after serving 10 months of his five year sentence for the culpable homicide of his model and law graduate girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14, 2013.

A three-year sentence for discharging a firearm in a restaurant in Melrose was suspended for five years.

On Wednesday, the ministry announced that the June 5 decision to release the double amputee on correctional supervision on August 21 was made prematurely.

In terms of the Correctional Services Act, such considerations can only be made once Pistorius had served a full sixth of his sentence, which he had not yet done by June 5 according to the department’s calculations.

Mthunzi explained that the National Council on Correctional Services comprises of three judges, a magistrate, a director of public prosecutions, two members of the department, a general from the SA Police Service, a representative from the Department of Social Development and two academic experts in the field of criminology.

Pistorius family ‘considering options’

Also on the committee is a penologist, attorneys, clinical psychologists and community members who represent the victims and community.

After Thursday’s surprise announcement, the Pistorius family spokesperson, Anneliese Burgess, told News24: “We accept the decision made by the minister of justice and are considering our options.”

The department’s decision came after the Progressive Women’s Movement of SA filed a petition opposing his release during “Women’s Month”.

While considering this petition, it came to light that the decision to release Pistorius had been made too soon.

During his trial, Pistorius admitted that he had shot Steenkamp, but said it was an accident. He thought a burglar was hiding behind the toilet door that he shot through.

It was only afterwards that he realised it was Steenkamp. He was charged with murder, but the High Court in Pretoria decided to find him guilty of culpable homicide.

The Gauteng Directorate of Public Prosecutions has filed an appeal over this to the Supreme Court of Appeal, in a bid to have the conviction changed to murder. This could be heard in November. News24

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