Oscar Pistorius will remain in prison after his release just 10 months into a five-year sentence was suspended by the South African Justice Department today.
Pistorius was due to be let out on Friday (August 21) to serve the rest of his time under house arrest at his uncle’s home in Waterkloof, Pretoria, but the South African Justice Department claimed the decision to do so was “premature”.
Justice Minister Michael Masutha has now referred the matter back to the parole board and the date of his release has been postponed until the controversial case has been reviewed.
The decision not to release the 28-year-old was praised by Ian Evitt, a lawyer who attended the trial, and comes after Masutha received a petition from the Progressive Women’s Movement of South Africa.
“The Minister was acting prudently, acting responsibly,” he told eNews Channel Africa.
“He did exactly what he is entitled to do.
“The ultimate decision rests with the Minister.”
The announcement to suspend his early release, which caused widespread anger and debate, follows prosecutors filing papers at South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal calling for Pistorius to be convicted of murder on Monday (August 17).
Pistorius was handed his sentence last October on a verdict of culpable homicide but prosecutors want the charge, equivalent to manslaughter, upgraded to murder which carries a minimum 15-year prison term.
The double amputee insists that he mistook girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp for an intruder when he fired four shots through a bathroom door on Valentine’s Day in 2013.
Prosecutors say the six-times Paralympic champion knew there was someone hiding behind the door when he fired, and that this amounts to the level of intent required for murder.
Today marks a particularly poignant day for the Steenkamp family as she would have celebrated her 32nd birthday, and parents June and Barry, who have said that 10 months in jail is "not enough for taking a life", marked the occasion by visiting a beach in Port Elizabeth which she used to go to.
“We are still struggling with coming to terms with losing our precious daughter Reeva and her loss is felt even more this week as we would have celebrated her 32nd birthday on 19 August,” they said in a statement.
“As a family we want to continue to honour Reeva’s memory by focusing on the Reeva Rebecca Steenkamp Foundation, celebrating her life, what she stood for and the joy she brought into so many lives.”
The International Paralympic Committee ruled in October that Pistorius will not be able to compete at any major event, including Rio 2016, for five years, even if he was to be released before his five-year sentence is complete.
August 2015: Prosecutors file papers calling for Pistorius murder charge
August 2015: Pistorius likely to be released from jail next week
June 2015: Oscar Pistorius set to be released from jail 10 months into five year sentence
March 2015: Pistorius' lawyers fail in attempt to block appeal against culpable homicide guilty verdict
February 2015: Pistorius' lawyers to fight appeal ruling against culpable homicide verdict