CAPE TOWN - Oscar Pistorius has been transferred to a Gqeberha prison, the same city as where his murdered girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp’s parents live.
He is due to come face to face with them soon ahead of him being considered for parole.
Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo earlier this month would not confirm reports that Pistorius was going to be moved to the Eastern Cape for talks with June and Barry Steenkamp.
He at the time said “this is new to me”, adding that “inmates are hardly moved closer to December“.
But the department on Monday confirmed that Pistorius had been transferred to the St Albans Correctional Centre in Gqebera.
The department said the transfer was necessitated by the need to commence with the victim-offender dialogue process.
As the Steenkamps were unable to travel to Pretoria, Pistorius was taken to them.
The department, meanwhile, explained that the dialogue process is part of an inmate’s rehabilitation path, wherein they are able to acknowledge the harm they have caused to their victims and society at large.
“This is an internal process and it is our humble plea that all participants be allowed to partake without undue pressure to disclose contents of the engagement,” the department said.
It added that these dialogues were sensitive, emotional and presided over by highly-trained officials to ensure that all the parties derive value from the process.
The department is unable to say how long this process would be and said it is guided by how prepared all the participants were to engage with each other.
The department stressed that this was not a parole placement process, but part of a programme before an offender was considered for placement on parole.
Tania Koen, lawyer and spokesperson for the Steenkamps, meanwhile said the family was aware that Pistorius had been transferred to St Albans prison.
“The department will now follow the process to facilitate the victim offender dialogue. We have no further comment in this regard,” she said.
Koen earlier this month told the Pretoria News that the Steenkamps were very emotional at this stage and not doing well.
“They expected Oscar to only come into consideration for parole in 2023 and they prepared themselves emotionally for that date.”
Koen at the time added that the Steenkamps knew that an inmate may be considered for parole at any time, but the fact that this was now was sprung on them.
“While they want to be part of the process and they are prepared to see him, it will be emotional for them to face him,” she earlier said.
Pistorius is being considered for parole after serving eight years of his jail term for killing his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013.
He celebrated his 35th birthday a week ago.
His lawyer Julian Knight said he could not pre-empt when his client’s parole hearing would commence and conclude, but he said that it was a process which usually took some time.
It is not clear at this stage if he will be able to celebrate Christmas at home.