Pistorius’ life in prison – gang beatings, bushy beard, meeting with Reeva’s dad

It’s more than 10 years since Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead at his home in South Africa.

The ‘Blade Runner’ was at the height of his fame when he killed Steenkamp months after the 2012 London Olympics. At his murder trial, he claimed he shot the 29-year-old model by mistake with his licensed pistol because he thought she was a dangerous intruder hiding in his bathroom on Valentine’s Day 2013.

He was initially convicted of culpable homicide, an offence similar to manslaughter. His conviction was subsequently upgraded to murder and he was sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison after a series of appeals by prosecutors.

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However, Pistorius could soon be released as he has a parole hearing this week, having been denied parole at a previous hearing earlier this year. The former athlete, who turns 37 this week, has naturally attracted plenty of attention while inside, with reports of physical altercations with fellow inmates.

Even before he was locked up, there were warnings that he would be beaten and gang raped unless a bribe was paid, according to a family spokesperson.

He sustained an injury in a fracas with another inmate over a prison telephone in 2017. A year earlier, he received treatment for injuries to his wrists, which his family denied were a result of self-harm and said were caused by him falling in his cell.

Pistorius was also said to have adopted a radical new look. His former school headteacher, Bill Schroder, has visited the South African occasionally in prison. He told The Sun in 2020 that Pistorius has grown a bushy beard while his weight had ballooned.

“What he really, really wants is forgiveness,” said Mr Schroder. “I said to him that if he had killed my daughter I doubt I would forgive him.

“He is more concerned about forgiveness than actually getting out on parole. In fact, he has a real fear about getting parole as he knows there’ll be a backlash.”

Pistorius has reportedly given up on all exercise and even taken up smoking, completely changing his complexion and making him unrecognisable from when he first went to jail.

Another of his prison visitors over the years has included Steenkamp’s father, Barry, as part of the South Africa Victim-Offender Dialogue programme. However, it wasn’t a successful meeting.

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He told ITV earlier this year: “I'm sure that he did have remorse after shooting Reeva… I asked him certain questions, all June [Reeva's mother] and I wanted to know is the truth – and we think that is that he killed her out of anger.

"I cut our chat short, because I didn't get the answers I wanted. It was very traumatising for me and June who wasn't there. We feel it's not true, the version that he gave."

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