Why convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius cannot admit he deliberately killed his girlfriend — even if that’s the truth. That admission would stop him being awarded parole and a limited form of freedom, says his parole lawyer.

30 March 2023 By Paul Martin

June Steenkamp, mother of the murdered Reeva, is demanding an admission by Oscar Pistorius that he knew his target was Reeva, not an intruder. But Pistorius cannot accept June Steenkamp’s ‘s demand that he admit he killed her daughter in a rage, according to Pistorius’s parole lawyer.   

She is to confront him for the first time since the murder trials and appeal — only her husband Barry has met with Pistorius in the past year.

Mrs Steenkamp’s argument, to be aired in a closed-door parole hearing at a prison in Pretoria on Friday morning, is that this denial shows he is not feeling genuine remorse.

“Her view is a factor to be taken into account [in the success or failure of the parole application], but it is not the alpha and omega of everything,” Pistorius’s parole lawyer Julian Knight told Correspondent.World by telephone from Pretoria.

June Steenkamp with red roses on Valentine’s Day 2023. She threw them in the ocean at the same spot where she had scattered her daughter Reeva’s ashes. Exclusive photo Paul Martin / Correspondent.World

“If he admitted he killed Reeva knowing it was Reeva, it would not help him get parole. On the contrary, any such admission would end the parole hearing,” Mr Knight told Correspondent.World.  He would then need to be assessed by psychologists to see if that change of story means that, once out of the prison environment, he would be more likely or less likely to commit another crime.

In the trial the judge did not conclude that Pistorius knew it was Reeva he was shooting at. He was convicted of murder because he should have and would have known that firing those shots would kill the person being targeted — irrespective of who he actually thought was in the toilet area.

His version was never rejected as not being ‘reasonably possibly true’ by the Crown Court, said the lawyer.

“If Pistorius at that stage came up with an alternative version, we would now need to have psychologists re-evaluate him to see if he would be a danger to society or not.”

But even when granted parole, Pistorius will have a lifestyle very different from his previous superstardom.

“If he does get parole he will not be a free man,” said Mr Knight.  “He will be heavily restricted.” 

Mr Knight described Pistorius as “a broken person. He is not the superstar he was.  The life that he had has gone.  Maybe he can become a motivational speaker, especially with his disabilities.”

On parole Pistorius would be under a sort of house arrest – but he can go to church on Sundays and shop on Saturdays. He can be visited at random “day or night” by parole officers.

He is not allowed to drink alcohol.

Reports that the South African parole officers would make Pistorius wear a tagging device are false, says the lawyer.  That’s because the authorities do not even possess tags that work.  They have tried to get tagging devices for prisoners serving a life sentence once they get parole, but there’s a row over payment.   

The South African prisons service is so riddled with problems that “my client will not even be able to phone me from the prison once the hearing is over.  There is a ‘ticky-box’ [coin box],” the lawyer said, “but it’s not working.” Nor could Pistorius borrow anyone’s mobile phone: when visitors or staff go in, phones are placed in safekeeping.

The outcome of the hearing will only be known early next week, I expect,” said the lawyer,

He assesses Pistorius as a strong person who is “behaving normally, but he will never be an athlete again,” the lawyer said. The former Olympic and Paralympic ‘Blade Runner’ “will probably make his income from motivational talks.” 

During any parole he cannot earn any money from interviews, or benefit from his crime or his period in prison.”

Mr Knight added: “Mentally he does not seem to be suffering from any mental conditions.”

Pistorius has been offered two jobs already, the lawyer revealed. “He would need to apply and his boss must say what Pistorius’s hours of work are and exact location,” said Mr Knight. “After work he would have to head straight home. And no parties — he would be banned from drinking alcohol.”

He is likely to offer himself around as a motivational speaker, the lawyer said.  He may be able to specify where he will speak, but he can certainly do so from his home computer.

It’s also not true he has grown a bushy beard, said Mr Knight. Pistorius is clean-shaven.

“The outcome of the hearing will only be known early next week, I expect,” said the lawyer.