Convicted murderer and former Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius was released from prison to attend the funeral of his grandfather yesterday.
Former Paralympian Pistorius, 31, is serving a 15-year-sentence for the murder of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29, who he blasted to death in his own bathroom in Pretoria, South Africa, in 2013.
Last month, Pistorius’ unwell grandfather Hendrik Pistorius – who the former athlete called Oupa – died aged 101 just hours after going into hospital for a routine operation.
The once much-loved ‘Blade Runner’ was said to be devastated when Hendrik died on October 19 and he applied to the Department of Correctional Services to attend his memorial to say goodbye.
A rare glimpse of Oscar Pistorius as he covers his face arriving at the memorial service for his late grandfather in Centurion yesterday
The former Paralympian was said to be devastated when grandfather Hendrik (pictured with his son Leo) died after a routine operation last month
Pistorius was freed on ‘compassionate grounds’ to attend the service in the Kleinkaap Boutique Hotel in Centurion on yesterday morning.
Before the service started, mourners were served tea and scones.
He was seen arriving in a white marked Department of Correctional Services Toyota Corolla car, flanked by two prison guards.
The double-amputee was pictured sitting in the back of the vehicle, covering his face with his jacket and hand when he saw waiting photographers.
Hendrik was said to have visited his grandson during one of the prison’s open days in 2017.
Hendrik’s wife‚ Gerti‚ died in 2016‚ aged 92, and he is survived by seven children‚ 23 grandchildren, including Oscar, and 30 great-grandchildren.
He ran a successful agricultural limestone supply company during his working life.
The athlete has previously been given leave to attend the memorial service of his his maternal grandmother, Gerti, in August 2016.
And in August last year, Pistorius was again allowed ‘compassionate leave’ to attend the funeral of his other grandmother, English-born Joyce Bekker, who died aged 93.
Pistorius has previously been given leave to attend the memorial service of his maternal grandmother Gerti (pictured, with the former athlete) who died aged 92 in August 2016
Oscar Pistorius was convicted of killing girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in their home in 2013 after she was shot through a bathroom door
Being allowed out of Atteridgeville Prison in Pretoria, South Africa, for a third time has led to questions that the former national hero may be getting preferential treatment.
But Singabakho Nxumalo, spokesman for the Department of Correctional Services, told the Weekend Argus: ‘An application has been made but it has not yet been fully considered.
‘The Head of Centre has to consider a number of factors before an inmate is temporarily placed outside of a correctional facility as that carries risks.
‘This concession is only granted when it concerns a direct family member (father, mother, child, spouse, brother, sister, grandfather and grandmother).’
Oscar last met grandad Hendrik during a prison open day visit last year and in the week before Reeva was killed in 2013 he had introduced her to both Hendrik and wife Gerti.
The Blade Runner turns 32 on November 22 and is likely to become eligible for parole around 2023.
The prisons spokesperson denied that Pistorius was getting any preferential treatment and insisted that all the inmates in the low security prison are treated equally.
Compassionate leave he said was dependent on how the inmate was responding to correctional programmes and rehabilitation on their behaviour when in prison.
The Weekend Argus quoted a source in the Department of Correctional Services who claimed Pistorius was a model prisoner who was ‘humble and caring’.
Last month, Oscar’s unwell grandfather Hendrik Pistorius (pictured with his son Leo Pistorius) died aged 101 just hours after going into hospital for a routine operation
Being allowed out of Atteridgeville Prison (pictured) in Pretoria, South Africa, for a third time has led to questions that the former national hero may be getting preferential treatment
The source said: ‘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.
‘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 said that Pistorius keeps 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.’.
Murdered Reeva’s mother June Steenkamp, 71, recently told local media that she had forgiven Oscar for murdering her daughter but believed that he should still be punished.
Pistorius is serving a 15-year-sentence for the murder of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
Pistorius was refused permission by the South African Constitutional Court earlier this year to make any more appeals against his conviction or sentence for murdering Reeva.
The Blade Runner was the first double amputee to race in the Olympics competing in the 2012 London games becoming a role model for the disabled worldwide.
The following year Pistorius plummeted from grace after being arrested for the brutal murder of Reeva shooting her four times including a fatal wound to the head.
Reeva’s parents English born June from Blackburn, Lancs, and her South African born retired horse trainer husband Barry, 75, were always convinced she was murdered.
The couple told a TV channel that they believe Reeva had packed her bags and told Pistorius she was leaving him on the evening of her death and that he killed her.