Mbabane – Oscar Pistorius, the only double amputee in Olympic history has walked away from jail.
Now 37, Pistorius is out on parole after serving nearly nine years for the four gunshots that changed his life and, more devastatingly, ended that of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
It was at the height of his fame on Valentine’s Day in 2013, not even a year after he ran at the Olympic Games, London 2012 on carbon fibre blades, that the sprinter fired a licensed 9mm pistol through a locked bathroom door at his home situated in a gated community in the hills above Pretoria, killing 30-year-old Reeva, who was behind it.
From Thursday January 4, he will be living 24 kilometres east of Pretoria behind high walls in a garden cottage on the guarded estate of his rich Uncle Arnold, his estranged father Henk’s brother.
In the elite, diplomatic Waterkloof suburb of the capital, where Arnold lives, security men sit on grass verges or outside the gates. It is a place of quiet menace.
Blue and yellow signs ward off potential intruders with the warning: ‘ADT Rapid Response’.
Pistorius will be monitored until 2029, the end of his sentence. South Africa’s Department of Correctional Services said: ‘An elevated public profile linked to Pistorius does not make him different from other inmates nor warrant inconsistent treatment.
‘The general parole conditions will apply to Pistorius. For example, he will be expected to be home at particular hours of the day. He may not consume alcohol and other prohibited substances.’
He will be compelled to undergo anger-management therapy and attend programmes on gender-based violence. Visits to the nightclubs he once frequented are strictly forbidden. It is thought he may involve himself with enterprises associated with his Uncle Arnold, a tourism and property businessman at whose house he stayed while on bail.
Having wrestled with the Pistorius question – did he murder Reeva?, a crime to which he has never owned up to including when confronted in jail by Reeva’s now late father Barry, one has to come to this simple conclusion.
Oscar, a proud man from a rich family who lost his beloved mother young, without legs from the knees down, a former rugby player at a posh, Alpha-male school, Pretoria Boys High School, living in a shrinkingly dominant white community, was angered that night in high pique, as it is known he often could be, distraught that Reeva might be cheating on him, an unproven accusation, by the way.
His brittle self-esteem fractured. Why, as he lay in bed, did he not ask Reeva: ‘Are you there, darling?’ before shooting through the bathroom door? Why, on hearing her screams, did he proceed to fire three more bullets? Only he knows the answer for sure, but in a way we all do.
Oscar Pistorius will live with his horrific act for the rest of his life, and it’s a tragedy for him. But, never forget, more so for Reeva, her widowed mother June and that inconsolable family.