Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius meets father of his murdered partner Reeva Steenkamp

Oscar Pistorius has met the father of his late partner Reeva Steenkamp as the South African athlete seeks parole nine years after her murder.

The Paralympic gold medalist was jailed after shooting the 29-year-old model four times through a locked bathroom door at his Pretoria home in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013.

He insisted he believed she was an intruder and was initially found guilty of wrongful death – a charge akin to manslaughter. But in 2015, the verdict was upgraded to murder by South Africa’s Supreme Court, and his jail term was later increased to 13 years and five months.

Now, as part of the process for seeking parole in South Africa — known as the victim-offender dialogue — Reeva’s father, Barry Steenkamp, ​​is said to have met Pistorius.

The couple met on June 22, according to Steenkamp family lawyer Tania Koen.

“The dialogue is a private and confidential matter, so we ask that our customers’ privacy is respected,” Ms. Koen told the Associated Press.

Reeva Steenkamp was murdered in February 2013 by Oscar Pistorius

(Lucky Nxumalo/Citypress via AP/File)

The trial is part of South Africa’s restorative justice system and aims to give crime victims or their relatives a chance to meet perpetrators in a controlled environment before they can be considered for parole, helping them to to come to closure.

A parole hearing for Pistorius was scheduled for last year but was canceled because he had not yet met Steenkamp’s parents.

He was transferred from the Atteridgeville penal institution in Pretoria to an institution in the southern town of Gqeberha, the birthplace of the Steenkamps, for the meeting. He has now been returned to the capital’s low-security prison, South Africa’s Department of Correctional Services said.

A spokesman for the department confirmed that the meeting had taken place and emphasized that Pistorius would continue to serve his sentence, as participating in the trial did not equate to the end of his sentence or a conditional placement.

“It is necessary to emphasize that detainees are obliged to participate in the VOD as part of their rehabilitation process, whereby they are able to recognize the damage they have caused to their victims and society in general,” he said. the TimesLIVE newspaper.

In a Facebook post, the Reeva Rebecca Steenkamp Foundation expressed “love and support to Barry and June, who participated in the process of preparing them to meet with Oscar Pistorius.” It added: “Barry finally met Oscar on June 22, 2022 for the victim-perpetrator dialogue.

“A heartfelt thank you to the Department of Correctional Services, in particular the staff at St Albans Prison, for facilitating the process in a sensitive and professional manner.”

During his lengthy trial that was televised in 2014, Pistorius used his testimony to apologize to Steenkamp’s family, telling the court: “There has not been a moment since this tragedy that I have not been able to thank your family. thought.”

Additional reporting by AP