21st March 2024

The year commenced as it had ended with a busy, wide and varied exchange between Greg Hughes and our contributor Seamus Gunn which kicked off with the headline story of the day being the release of Oscar Pistorius from the department of correctional services in South Africa having served 50% of his 13 years and 5 months for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013, when he discharged a firearm, firing 4 shots through the door of the couple’s bathroom, Pistorius claiming that he mistook her for an intruder. 

Seamus Gunn reviewed the background to the Pistorius fall from grace, having risen to great heights through his sporting achievements and the manner in which he championed the cause of the disabled, particularly their role in sport. He outlined that not only had he achieved success at 3 Para Olympics, winning 7 Gold Medals, he also qualified in 2012 for the able-bodied athletes Olympics in London, having first been denied entry by the World Athletics Association, a decision which he appealed. He said that he could be considered to be one of the greatest athletes of all time as in the Olympics in London he qualified for the semifinal in the 400 metres despite his disadvantage. He was of the view that he had earned his parole, as initially he was convicted of culpable homicide and sentenced to 5 years. He was then released on parole after 1 year, when his conviction was appealed, to be found guilty of murder. After a sentence of 6 years was imposed, he returned to prison, this was then appealed, and a 13-year prison term was the revised penalty. He said that he has participated in all programmes that would have qualified him for early release and he referenced the Restorative Justice Programme, part of which involved him meeting the victim’s father Barry Steenkamp in 2022. He said that despite being released, he would be under supervision and would still have restrictions imposed on him, that he could not participate in media events until the term of the full sentence had expired in 2029. Seamus Gunn was of the view that it was likely film material in the future, Greg Hughes thinking that this may already be under way. He referenced how magnanimous Reeva Steenkamp’s Mother was in accepting the release and praising the parole board’s efforts, making the telling point that while she was not convinced that he had rehabilitated, she had to move on with her life. It was understood that he would now live with his uncle in Pretoria under the terms of his parole. Seamus Gunn finished by saying that he anticipated that there would be another chapter in the life of Oscar Pistorius and wondered what future challenges he would face. 

The variety of the Q&A that followed has remained consistent as it finished in 2023 and can be listed to below.