Justice Minister blocks Pistorius’s early release


South Africa’s justice minister has blocked the early release of athlete Oscar Pistorius from prison on Friday.

He said the decision by the parole board to free the athlete after serving 10 months of his five-year sentence was premature and without legal basis.

It could now take months for the board to review its decision, legal sources told the BBC.

Pistorius was convicted of manslaughter last year after shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The Olympic athlete insists he mistook her for an intruder.

He was due to be transferred from prison to house arrest on Friday, when he was expected to stay at his uncle’s three-story mansion in the capital, Pretoria.

Under South African law, Pistorius is eligible for release under “correctional supervision”, having served a sixth of his sentence.

One of his relatives, who did not want to be named, told Reuters news agency they were “shocked and disappointed” at the news.

In a statement, South Africa’s Justice Minister Michael Masutha said the decision to free the athlete was taken prematurely.

“One sixth of a five year sentence is 10 months and at the time the decision was made Mr Pistorius had served only over six months of his sentence,” the statement said.

Thursday would have been Ms Steenkamp’s 32nd birthday.

Her parents held a small ceremony for her close friends and supporters in her hometown of Port Elizabeth, throwing roses into the sea in her memory.