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Legitimacy of Pistorius's parole under review

3 judges will now decide whether the decision to grant Oscar Pistorius parole was legitimate.

FILE. Oscar Pistorius leaves the Hight Court in Pretoria after the reading of judgment in his murder trial on 12 September 2014. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

PRETORIA - A panel of three judges will now be tasked with deciding whether the decision to grant Oscar Pistorius parole was legitimate.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha announced on Wednesday that he had referred the decision to a review board after legal advice suggested the athlete's parole was granted prematurely.

Pistorius is serving a five-year sentence for shooting and killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day two years ago, and was scheduled to be released under Correctional Supervision on Friday.

Masutha said he's referred the parole board's decision to the National Council of Corrections for Review.

"I am confident that they have all the competence to dispose of the matter. There are at least three judges who serve on that body and I think they're well-placed to make the appropriate decision."

He believes the parole board's decision was premature.

"In terms of the Act, you must have served at least one-sixth of your sentence. When the board sat and considered his application for parole, he had not yet completed the one-sixth."

It's unclear when the council will convene to discuss the matter.

Meanwhile, the Steenkamp family has said they're concentrating on celebrating her this week and are not focusing their attention on Pistorius.

June and Barry Steenkamp spent Wednesday at Summerstrand Beach in Port Elizabeth, marking what would have been her thirty-second birthday.

The family's attorney Tania Koen said the announcement about Pistorius's parole caught June and Barry by surprise.

"Her first words to me were, people must remember that Reeva died and all the good that Reeva would have done for this world, she can no longer do. What June and Barry have always said is, it's not about Oscar, it's about Reeva."

She said the Steenkamps don't feel relief, nor do they welcome the announcement.

But they do believe 10 months in prison is not sufficient for taking a life.

To read the full statement from the justice department, _ click here_.

To learn more about Reeva's story, _ click here_.

To view today's EWN cartoon on Oscar Pistorius, _ click here_.