Legal advice sought on Pistorius release
Cape Town – Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha said he is receiving legal advice to determine whether or not to intervene in the scheduled release of the jailed paralympian Oscar Pistorius.
The Minister said this during an impromptu briefing to journalists following his site visit to the Pollsmoor Correctional Centre in the Western Cape, on Tuesday.
He said this days after the department announced that Pistorius would be released on Friday after serving 10 months of his five year jail sentence for shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead on Valentine’s Day two years ago.
Minister Masutha said after receiving a complaint from a gender activism organisation – which raised concerns about the sensitivity of releasing Pistorius during Women’s Month - he was set to meet with his legal advisors late on Tuesday afternoon.
“I did receive representations from one non-governmental organisation, a gender activism organisation, because of a feeling that releasing him in Women’s Month is a bit insensitive given the nature of the offence and the victim involved.
“I think the National Council of Correctional Services is sitting this week and you may be aware that one of its statutory responsibilities is to give me advice on matters of policy.
“So I have possibly another opportunity there to get further advice and we will make sure that we take a decision before Friday as to whether it would be necessary or even appropriate for us to make any intervention in the face of the announcement that the department made based on the prescripts of the law itself,” he said.
Pistorius’ release comes after a high court judge sentenced him to five years in jail for shooting Steenkamp dead through his bathroom door of his then Silver Woods home outside Pretoria.
After being jailed for culpable homicide, he is now eligible to serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest conditions.
State prosecutors have launched a court bid to have Pistorius convicted of murder, which comes with a minimum sentence of 15 years.
The Minister said on Tuesday that the legal advice he will receive will help him decide whether or not to intervene in the release of the paralympic star.
“If the law requires of us to do anything in relation to this matter, we will do so.
“But at this stage, I do not want to pre-empt what will come out of the advice that I will receive and based on that advice, I should be in a better position to determine what would be the appropriate course of action,” he said.
Minister’s Pollsmoor site visit
Prior to the briefing, the Minister did a walkabout of the Pollsmoor prison to assess the level of service delivery at the centre.
Ahead of his walk-about, he met the regional executive management team, where they discussed issues ranging from overcrowding, gansterism, Tuberculosis to smuggling of contraband into correctional centres.
His tour included a visit to the admissions centre, the mother-to-baby unit as well as the juvenile section of the centre.
He interacted with the juvenile offenders, who told him that they were satisfied with the centre’s catering and that they did not have any serious complaints about the conditions at the prison or how they are treated by wardens.
Briefing the media afterwards, he said overcrowding remained a challenge, especially at the centre’s remand cells.
He said this was because courts were taking long to finalise cases and the backlog was to blame for the overcrowding.
The Minister said he would meet with relevant regional heads of the justice cluster to see how the case flow backlog can be resolved. – SAnews.gov.za