Johannesburg – Convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius could be strapping on his blades again for the 2020 Olympics Games. Sports controlling body Sascoc looks set to forgive and welcome him when he is released from prison.
But some have greeted the prospect with rage.
In an interview with UK online publication MailOnline on Friday, Tubby Reddy, the Olympic body’s chief executive, said the disgraced athlete could play a part at the 2020 Tokyo games as he would have “paid his debt” to society.
Reddy’s astonishing comment comes days after Pistorius was handed a six-year sentence by Judge Thokozile Masipa at the high court in Pretoria, after his original five-year conviction for culpable homicide was upgraded to murder, on appeal last year. Pistorius, 29, shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp four times through a locked bathroom door in February 2013.
Reddy told the publication that he had “no problem” with the idea of the “blade runner” returning to the national team and representing his country at the highest level. He added that Pistorius may serve just one more year in jail for the murder of his girlfriend, which would give him time to train and qualify for the Tokyo games.
“He would have paid his debt to society and will be back in society, living as a normal South African citizen. There is no rule that says he would not be able to participate,” Reddy said.
“Yes, the sentence he has been given has divided opinion – there are those who are happy about it and there are those who are unhappy, and you will always have that. But if he is out on parole, as it seems he will be before then, and qualifies for selection, then I don’t see how there can be a problem. Why not?
“He would have to train and get his mental strength back, but those are challenges he would have to settle for himself.”
The Olympic body on Friday refused to comment on the matter.
“Unfortunately, we cannot respond at the moment. It will only be relevant once Oscar has been released from prison, so up until such time, Sascoc will not be responding to such inquiries,” a Sascoc spokesperson said.
Twitter responded in anger to the idea that Pistorius’s career could be resurrected. Lu Jacobs tweeted: “Tubby Reddy, CEO of South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee says he’ll welcome #OscarPistorius back for 2020. His MA SE P***”.
Others mocked Pistorius, asking if it would be participation in the shooting codes, while @SA problems tweeted: “There will be riots in SA. I doubt he would even be considered”.
Legal expert Piet du Plessis said that once Pistorius had completed a year in jail, he would be allowed to return to the court for the judge to consider house arrest, according to the Parole and Correctional Supervision Amendment Act 87 of 1997.
“Once he has done one year he is in the same position as the Waterkloof Four and can be referred back to the judge to consider house arrest. Authorities could allow house arrest to include permission to train as he was allowed to do in October last year.
“That was in fact his position after he was released having served 10 months. He has a track record of complying with all his conditions when previously released. I think he has a strong case for applying for this,” Du Plessis added.
Legal expert advocate Mannie Witz believes that Pistorius will have to serve at least half of his six-year jail sentence before applying for parole or correctional supervision.
“He will have to serve a minimum of three years – which is half his sentence – before he can become eligible for parole, and if he has problems within the corrective services it would affect his release,” Witz said.
Legal expert Ulrich Roux was in agreement with Witz, adding that Pistorius’s parole would be dependent on several factors such as: whether he completed any rehabilitative programmes while incarcerated, his behavioural reports from prison officials, participation in official prison activities, assisting with other inmates, the wishes of the Steenkamp family, what their attitude is towards his release on parole, and any special interest or requests by other bodies with a definite interest, such as the Women’s League.