South Africa’s Department of Justice on Wednesday blocked Oscar Pistorius’ early release from prison. The 28-year-old double-amputee Olympian was sentenced to five years for culpable homicide last October for fatally shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.
Pistorius was expected to begin house arrest Friday at the recommendation of a parole board. However, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha reportedly ordered a review of the parole board’s decision, stating that the decision of releasing Pistorius was made “prematurely.” The sprinter was eligible to be moved from jail to house arrest after serving one-sixth of the sentence, which in his case is 10 months. Masutha reportedly said that the board, which announced its decision in June, should have considered the prison release only after the completion of that period on Aug. 21.
"It is apparent therefore that the decision to release him on 21 August 2015 was made prematurely on 5 June 2015 when the offender was not eligible to be considered at all," the justice department, said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
Justice department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said "the decision of the parole board will have to be suspended" until the review.
"We've accepted the decision by the Ministry of Justice and are considering our options," Anneliese Burgess, the Pistorius family spokeswoman, said in a statement.
Masutha received a petition Monday from the Progressive Women’s Movement of South Africa to halt Pistorius’ transfer during the country’s Women’s Month.
Pistorius, who earned the nickname Blade Runner after becoming a Paralympic champion, was convicted of culpable homicide in September for shooting and killing Steenkamp, his girlfriend of three months, on Feb. 14, 2013. He has maintained he mistook her for an intruder, but Steenkamp's family argued his actions were not accidental. He also received a three-year sentence for a separate incident involving a firearm, which was later suspended.