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Oscar Pistorius' legal wrangling over sentence drags on

Oscar Pistorius after his sentencing Photo: Reuters

To the undoubted tragedy that was the killing of Reeva Steenkamp, the South Africa judicial system has added layers of legal soap opera.

The plot has not cast a flattering light on a system that has seemed at loggerheads with itself and open to accusations of political interference.

In previous episodes, Olympic athlete and national hero Oscar Pistorius was convicted of the culpable homicide of his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day two years ago.

He was jailed for five years, but under rules designed to ease chronic prison overcrowding, scheduled for release with strict supervision back in August.

He would have served just ten months of his sentence.

August here happened to be women’s month – and the women’s league of the ruling ANC thought that letting a killer out of jail would send the wrong message in a country where domestic violence is rife.

At their prompting, the Justice Minister intervened; saying the parole decision had been ‘’premature’’ even though it had been agreed under statute and after the usual consultations.

Oscar Pistorius with Reeva Steenkamp Credit: ITV News

Twice the Parole Review Board sat to consider the case.

Only the second time did it reach a conclusion; to set aside the original decision.

So today, and after pressure form the Pistorius legal team, the parole board met again.

Faced with the same facts, it came to a different conclusion.

The family of Reeva Steenkamp must be consulted a second time, they’ve decreed.

The Steenkamps, showing remarkable poise under terrible circumstances, have repeatedly said that though ten months is too short a time for Pistorius to spend behind bars, they have forgiven their daughter’s killer.

The Pistorius family, increasingly angry and frustrated, believe he is paying a price for his high profile.

In November, their lawyers are back in court to defend a prosecution bid to get the conviction turned into one of murder.

Before that, the parole board will meet yet again. No one these days cares to predict what the final scene of the drama will be.