Will Oscar's house arrest be a walk in the park?

2015-06-09 17:27
Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock in the North Gauteng High Court ahead of sentencing. (Herman Verwey/Media24/Pool)

Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock in the North Gauteng High Court ahead of sentencing. (Herman Verwey/Media24/Pool)

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Johannesburg - Correctional supervision for Oscar Pistorius will be no walk in the park, but how difficult could it be in the comfort of his uncle Arnold's plush Waterkloof home?

Law experts speaking to News24 have differing views.

The convicted Paralympian will not be released on parole, but will be put under correctional supervision, which is also known as house arrest.

Advocate at Bridge Group, Mannie Witz, said correctional supervision was anything but easy.

"The whole thing is based on rehabilitation and reform... It's a very, very strict sentence," he told News24.

"It's completely different to parole; it's a sentence, and they monitor you, and if you breach that, they take you back [to jail]. It's a very, very difficult sentence; people seem to think it's easy."

However, law expert David Dadic believes house arrest must be better than sitting in jail, especially in the environment where Pistorius is most likely to be living.

"I think his correctional supervision, given the house he's going to stay in, which is probably [his] uncle Arnold's house... must be easier, [and] better," Dadic told News24.

"I would have to hazard a guess that correctional supervision, despite its constraints and pressures in that you have to be monitored... to be a better version than being in jail."

The Correctional Supervision and Parole Board (CSPB) confirmed on Monday that Pistorius would leave the Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria on August 21 under correctional supervision.

Convicted of culpable homicide

On September 12 last year, Pistorius was acquitted of murder, but convicted of culpable homicide for shooting dead his model and law-graduate girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in the early hours of February 14 2013.

He fired four shots through the locked door of the toilet in his Pretoria home on Valentine's Day, apparently thinking she was an intruder.

On October 21, Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison for killing Steenkamp, and for three years - suspended for five - for discharging a firearm in a restaurant.

Both Witz and Dadic agreed that Pistorius would not be leaving jail an absolutely free man, and that his correctional supervision comes with strict conditions attached.

He will have to do community service and attend counselling or treatment. "It's not voluntary [community service], you are forced to do it," said Witz.

"You not getting advertising benefits and payment benefits... they can see now you're giving something back to the community and that comes out of your own time."

An element of freedom

Dadic said although he could not come and go as he pleased, Pistorius would have an element of freedom.

"His movements will be controlled and there is certainly monitoring, but in that light he will be integrated back into the community, gradually he will be invited to get employment of some sort; he will be invited to do communal services, [and] he will he will take up, I suppose, treatment of some sort.

"It's hard to say what his subjective terms will be. They look at it independently through the application process and decide what suits the convict. I can't tell you right now if he will get an hour a day, two hours a day, or one night a week... there's no golden rule here each case is looked at subjectively."

However, Pistorius will not be able to enjoy lunch out with his friends or even holidays.

Witz said he would be heavily monitored in the form of phone calls and spot checks at the house. "If anyone is going to be monitored, it's him," he said.

If Pistorius breaches the conditions of his correctional supervision he will be given a written warning. After a third warning he will be taken back to jail.

'Training is not gainfully employed'

On training, Dadic said this was a questionable area and he did not think it could be argued that it was part of his job as a professional athlete.

"I don't know if he can say he's gainfully employed. I don't see it falling in the employment category.

"Training is not gainfully employed. That doesn't fall in that category. Whether he can ask to train for the sake of his legs and exercise, that seems viable. Exercise is part of a person's integration and well being. He comes from an exercise oriented background," Dadic said.

He could not see Pistorius being banned from training a few days or hours a week.

Witz said Pistorius would probably need to get special permission, but he would not be allowed to compete in events or travel.

"They can't forbid him from being a professional athlete. But if he is training he will have to get special permission. You don't get extra leisure time to go train."

However, Witz said he doubted if Pistorius could still be considered a professional athlete as he was not getting paid, nor did he have any sponsors.

SCA to hear State appeal

The Supreme Court of Appeal will hear the State’s appeal against the former athlete's conviction in November.

If the SCA finds in favour of the State, Pistorius could see himself going back to jail.

However, Pistorius could launch an appeal and apply for bail.

"I see this thing landing up in the Constitutional Court...

"Let's assume the SCA converts his conviction to dolus eventualis then 15 years can be given... he will appeal and if he does... he is entitled to ask for bail.

"He will bring a bail application together with the appeal application. I don't see Oscar taking 10 years and not challenging it."

Witz said if he did not appeal or get bail, Pistorius would have 48 hours to put his affairs in order and return to prison.

Read more on:    reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  pistorius trial

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