Decision on Pistorius' release may take up to 4 months
JOHANNESBURG (AP) A review board has up to four months to decide whether and when Oscar Pistorius will be released from prison into house arrest, a spokesman for South Africa's justice ministry said on Thursday.
Two days before he was due to leave prison, Pistorius' early release was put on hold Wednesday by South Africa's justice department, which sent his case back to a parole review board. The athlete's release was approved eight months into his five-year prison sentence, when he should have served 10 months before even being considered for release, said justice department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga.
Pistorius, the double-amputee Olympic runner, was convicted last year of manslaughter for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in 2013.
Pistorius family spokeswoman Anneliese Burgess said in an email that no decisions have been made yet by the family.
''The family will take their time to calmly consider the way forward,'' Burgess wrote.
News of the postponed release came to the Steenkamp family as they held a beachside commemoration for Reeva Steenkamp on Wednesday, what would have been her 32nd birthday, said Jacqui Mofokeng, a member of the women's group who petitioned the justice minister to delay Pistorius' release.
''The mood changed,'' said Mofokeng, who was also part of a group of women who accompanied the Steenkamps during the trial. ''They sent a number of messages to individuals to say, `Thank you very much. This is a better birthday than last year.'''
Imray reported from Cape Town.