Oscar Pistorius has spent six years behind bars for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp in 2013, and was today told by a parole hearing that he had not served the minimum sentence to be granted early release.
Instead, the disgraced athlete will continue to serve his 13-year sentence for shooting dead Ms Steenkamp a decade ago, and will only be eligible to apply for parole again in August 2024.
During his time behind bars, Pistorius has been at the centre of serious controversy, from a brawl over a prison phone to reportedly playing football with a Czech mobster.
But detention services said today he has also ‘worked quite hard’ during his time in prison, with revelations he led a Bible group and helped other prisoners while locked up.
His sentence has been served in two very different prisons – with his first year seen out in the notorious Kgosi Mampuru II maximum security prison before he was moved to the ‘relaxed’ Atteridgeville facility, where he remains.
Here, MailOnline looks at what life has been like for the former Olympian and Paralympian during his years in prison.
Oscar Pistorius, the disgraced former Olympian who murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013, was told today that his bid for an early release from prison had failed
A prison cell in Kgosi Mampuru II maximum security prison, where Oscar Pistorius saw out his first year behind bars
Kgosi Mampuru II maximum security prison
Pistorius’s first year behind bars was at the notorious Kgosi Mampuru II maximum security prison, home to South Africa’s most dangerous criminals.
Home to 8,000 inmates, violent gangs were said to rule the facility.
Because his fame and disability meant he might be targeted by gangsters, Pistorius was housed in the hospital wing of the prison, which staff described as ‘very secure’, ‘very clean’, and ‘nice and neat’.
But that didn’t stop the famous athlete from complaining about his conditions, with prison inspection officers Violet Ngobeni and Boitumelo Morake meeting with him on numerous occasions.
‘When he arrived he was angry,’ said Ngobeni. ‘The first time I went to see him he was like ‘I don’t want to talk to anyone.”
He seemingly became more sociable, with grainy cellphone footage from inside the prison showing him playing football with a Czech mob boss.
‘He complained that he wanted a bath. They built a bath in his cell’: A picture from inside Kgosi Mampuru II jail shows a tub
The officers told CNN that he began to open up to them over the course of their meetings, in which he would share his complaints.
‘He complained that he wanted a bath. They built a bath in his cell.
‘He also had a complaint about his bed. And they replaced his bed for him,’ said Murasiet Mentoor, the regional manager of the Judicial Inspectorate.
Pistorius also raised concerns that his food might be poisoned, and chose to buy processed foods, inspectors said.
Reports suggest the murderer was desperate to leave and feared returning when he was moved to a lower security prison.
Pistorius was moved to Atteridgeville prison, which is said to be more suited to him due to his disability, after a year behind bars
After serving just a year of his sentence in the high-security jail, Pistorius was moved to Atteridgeville prison – said to be more suited to him due to his disability.
The ruling meant that the Paralympian was almost certainly the only convicted murderer in the facility, which then housed just 1,000 prisoners.
It was described as having a ‘relaxed, family atmosphere’ and by one of Pistorius’s relatives as ‘the best place he could be as a prisoner’.
The facility, on the outskirts of Pretoria, was described as having a ‘relaxed, family atmosphere’ and by one of Pistorius’s relatives as ‘the best place he could be as a prisoner’
A spokesman for Atteridgeville told MailOnline in 2018 that the 31 year-old had been given permission to remain at the more laidback facility after being found to be ‘low risk’.
His cell there was reported to have a specially adapted en-suite bathroom and he was allowed to grow his own food in the extensive gardens.
He continues to serve his sentence there after a parole hearing held at the facility decided he had been behind bars for less than the ‘minimum detention period’ required to qualify for early release.
Prisoners at the Atteridgeville Correctional Centre work in the facility’s vegetable garden
In 2017, the disgraced Paralympian was allegedly involved in a fight with an inmate from a neighbouring cell at Atteridgeville over the use of a public phone.
He was the only person injured in the brawl, sustaining a bruise, according to prison staff.
Prison spokesman, Singabakho Nxumalo, said at the time: ‘It is alleged that he was involved in an altercation with another inmate over the use of a public phone in the special care unit where both offenders are detained at Attridgeville Correctional Centre.
In 2017, the disgraced Paralympian was allegedly involved in a fight with an inmate from a neighbouring cell at Atteridgeville over the use of a public phone
The department has launched an investigation, in terms of standard procedure, to ‘establish the facts and to ensure that appropriate action is taken as incidents of assaults are not allowed’, he told the BBC.
In 2018, Pistorius appeared to be trying to turn over a new leaf, with reports emerging that he had adopted the role of a spiritual leader in the prison.
The Christian former athlete took on the mantel of a Bible group leader, and was helping other inmates with his religion, according to his father, Henke Pistorius.
Henke told the Times that his son had ‘always been a child of God’ and was ‘making a difference to others’ within the prison walls.
Pistorius will continue to serve his 13-year sentence for killing Ms Steenkamp a decade ago, and will only eligible to apply for parole again in August 2024
‘I have no doubt that Oscar has changed the environment in the prison for the better, he is helping to mediate between people and is having a positive influence,’ Mr Pistorius said.
‘He can feel he is making a difference to others who really needed a difference to be made — to give their lives meaning, purpose and some hope. As a result, things have also improved for him. It’s a wonderful story.
‘They are hardcore chaps, the problem people in the prison, but now they are all meeting to follow the Bible once or twice a week.’
A source in the Department of Correctional Services, quoted by South African publication The Weekend Argus in 2018, claimed Pistorius was a model prisoner who was ‘humble and caring’.
‘The Oscar I’ve come to know in jail is kind-hearted and cares for his fellow inmates. He buys food for those who can’t afford it or those who are far away from their relatives. And he does this without asking for anything in return,’ they said.
The South African athlete, nicknamed Blade Runner after his racing prosthetics, had been a widely-celebrated Paralympian prior to the killing
‘Oscar also doesn’t deny what he did and shows remorse every day without faking it or to manipulate people’s opinions. This is the side he shows in jail and people should stop judging him’.
The source added that Pistorius kept a low profile behind bars and did not enjoy any preferential treatment adding: ‘He likes his privacy and spends a lot of his time reading and visiting the prison library. He’s a real bookworm.’
Grew a beard and started smoking
There have been reports that during his time behind bars, the multiple Paralympic champion had lost his physique.
At certain points in his detention, it has been said, that he grew a beard, gained weight and had even taken up smoking.
Reports claimed he has become unrecognizable from the world-famous athlete he once was.
Meeting with Reeva’s father
Pistorius met Barry Steenkamp (left) last year. But Ms Steenkamp’s father came away from the meeting dissatisfied and ’emotional’. He did not travel to Pretoria today due to poor health
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline today, Ms Steenkamp’s parents welcomed the fact that their daughter’s killer will remain locked up
Pistorius met Barry Steenkamp, the father of his victim, in June last year, in what was said to have been a tense showdown in jail.
It was as part of a process authorities said aims to ensure inmates ‘acknowledge the harm they have caused to their victims and the society at large’.
Barry Steenkamp said Pistorius broke down and ‘wailed like a child’ when he read out a heart-breaking letter from Reeva’s mother.
Ms Steenkamp’s father came away from the meeting dissatisfied and ’emotional’, the Steenkamp family’s lawyer said today.
‘It was traumatic for both Mr Pistorius and Barry, it was painful, really painful.’
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline today, Ms Steenkamp’s parents welcomed the fact that their daughter’s killer will remain locked up.
Now Pistorius will have to remain in prison until he is allowed to reapply for parole in August 2024.
Timeline of events in the Oscar Pistorius murder case
February 14, 2013: Police arrest the Olympic and Paralympic sprinter for killing Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, who was shot four times at his Pretoria home.
February 15: Pistorius bursts into tears as he is charged, denying murder ‘in the strongest terms’.
February 19: Pistorius claims in an affidavit he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder. He said he fired through a locked bathroom door, in what prosecutors term ‘premeditated’ murder.
February 21: Global sportswear manufacturer Nike suspends its sponsorship contract with the athlete.
February 22: Pistorius is granted bail.
On Valentine’s Day, Pistorius fired four shots through the door of a locked bathroom at his home in Pretoria. Reeva was on the other side
The trial begins
March 3, 2014: The trial opens in Pretoria before crowds of journalists from around the world, with the testimony of a neighbour who tells the court she heard ‘terrible screams’ from a woman. Ten days later, Pistorius vomits when a picture of Steenkamp’s body is flashed on the court’s television screens.
April 7-15: Pistorius takes the stand and begins with a tearful apology to Steenkamp’s family. This is followed by five days of often intense cross-examination, marked by bouts of tears and breaks in the session. Pistorius steadfastly denies any intention to kill Steenkamp.
June 30: After a six-week break, a panel of three psychiatrists and a psychologist conclude Pistorius does not suffer from mental illness.
September 12: Judge Thokozile Masipa finds Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide or manslaughter.
October 21: The judge sentences him to a maximum of five years in jail. He is taken to Pretoria prison.
Under house arrest
October 20, 2015: Pistorius is allowed out of prison after just one year to spend the remainder of his sentence under house arrest.
December 3: The Supreme Court of Appeal convicts him of murder, saying his testimony was ‘vacillating and untruthful’.
December 8: Pistorius is released on bail pending sentencing, and remains under house arrest.
Pistorius was found guilty of murder and given a 13-year jail sentence in 2017 after a lengthy trial
‘Shockingly lenient’ sentence
March 2, 2016: Pistorius, now 29, loses his final bid to appeal his murder conviction.
July 6: He is sentenced to six years in jail for murder.
August 14: South African media reports say Pistorius is put on 24-hour suicide watch.
September 15: Prosecutors say they will petition the Supreme Court of Appeal for a tougher sentence for Pistorius, having described the six-year term as ‘shockingly lenient’.
November 14: Prison authorities say Pistorius has been transferred to a prison adapted for disabled inmates just outside Pretoria to serve the rest of his sentence.
Oscar Pistorius holds his head in his hands during the hearing of his murder trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, on March 13, 2014
Jail term extended
November 3, 2017: The appeal court adjourns to consider its ruling after prosecutors argue that Pistorius’s jail term is too short, while defence lawyers say the judge handed down a fair sentence.
November 24: The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein more than doubles Pistorius’s sentence of six years to 13 years and five months.
March 28, 2018: South Africa’s highest court rejects Pistorius’s leave to appeal, ending the long legal battle over the killing.
November 29, 2021: Prison services say Pistorius has been temporarily moved to a detention facility in the southern city of Gqeberha, formerly Port Elizabeth, as part of his parole process, having become eligible for early release a few months earlier, after serving half his sentence.
July 1, 2022: Prison services say Pistorius has met with Steenkamp’s parents as part of his rehabilitation process.
March 31, 2023: A parole board is called to decide on whether the 36-year-old former athlete should be released early. He is denied an early release and will only be eligible to apply again in August 2024.