Justice Minister: Pistorius parole sent for review

Oscar Pistorius was due to be released on Friday after serving 10 months in prison.

FILE: Oscar Pistorius cries while seated in the dock during the judgment in his murder trial in Pretoria on 11 September 2014. Picture: Pool.

JOHANNESBURG - Justice Minister Michael Masutha has announced Oscar Pistorius's parole bid has been referred to the Correctional Supervision and Parole Review Board, meaning there is a possibility he won't be released on parole this coming Friday as was widely expected.

#Pistorius will not be released on Friday - Justice Minister says decision was made prematurely and he has referred it for review

Masutha says the decision to release the Blade Runner from jail was made prematurely and without any legal basis.

Pistorius was sentenced to five years in jail last year for killing his then girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in 2013.

Steenkamp would have celebrated her 32nd birthday today.

In the statement, Masutha referred to the legislation which states that an offender may be considered for release after serving a sixth of their sentence.

But, at the time when the decision was made for Pistorius to be released - in June - he'd not yet served out that period.

According to the minister, he should only have become eligible for consideration on Friday, the day he was scheduled for release.

He has so far only served 10 months of his sentence.

He can only be released if the review board upholds the original decision to grant him parole.

Meanwhile, the Progressive Women's Movement of South Africa says it's celebrating Masutha's decision.

The movement had launched a petition against the initial decision asking why the Blade Runner was due for release during women's month.

UNCERTAINTY OVER PISTORIUS'S RELEASE

Doubt now hangs over exactly when the convicted killer will actually be released on parole.

Masutha today announced that the decision to release Pistorius has been suspended.

"I came to the conclusion that the board had to add by sitting and considering his application for parole before the minimum period that you are required to serve under the relevant provisions. The period has not yet lapsed and will lapse tomorrow."

The minister's spokesperson says it is not clear at this stage when the parole review board will be able to meet.

It is up to that review board to decide whether the parole board's initial decision, made in June, will still stand.

It now seems unlikely that the parole review board will hold that meeting and make a decision within the next 48 hours.

To read the full statement from the justice department, click here.