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'Oscar Pistorius to begin next phase of his sentence'

Pistorius is under house arrest and has to strictly adhere to his parole conditions.

FILE: Oscar Pistorius leaves the North Gauteng High Court after the first day of sentencing arguments in his murder trial.  Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

PRETORIA - Oscar Pistorius' family has issued a brief statement after his release from prison.

The paralympian was due to be released today, but prison authorities decided to allow him to leave late last night, avoiding a media gauntlet.

Pistorius spent a year of his five year sentence in jail and will now conclude it at home.

He was found guilty of culpable homicide after killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.

The family says that like the public, they expected Pistorius to be released today and the decision to release him was made by management at the prison.

Spokesperson Anneliese Burgess says Pistorius is currently at his uncle Arnold's Waterkloof home, but she could not divulge his emotional state.

She stressed that the family wants it to be made clear that Pistorius is not free and that his sentenced has not been shortened or reduced.

He will also continue to strictly adhere to his parole conditions.

Burgess could also not say at this stage what those conditions are, but they will be made clear over time.

Despite being under house arrest with some restrictions, it is believed Pistorius will be able to work, socialise and even attend events.

He'll be under correctional supervision until 2019 and it's understood Pistorius will have to undergo weekly psychiatric treatment and perform community service.

'NO PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT'

Correctional Services say the decision to release Pistorius a day earlier than planned does not constitute preferential treatment.

Pistorius has spent his first night back home after being released from the Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre earlier than expected.

Correctional Services confirmed late last night that the local management at the prison decided to release Pistorius early.

Correctional Services caught the media off-guard last night, releasing Pistorius under cover of darkness a day before he was scheduled to be released.

It has been speculated that this was likely to happen in order to avoid massive media scrum at the correctional facilities.

Prison officials have the authority to decide how and when to release an offender and say they this was in the best interest of all parties, but they are insisting there was no special treatment for Pistorius.

Spokespersons Manelisi Wolela says, "There's no special treatment in this particular case because there're thousands of other inmates who were placed either on parole or on probation based on factors that were considered by local management because this matter is an operational matter."

The Parole Board met last week to consider his application to be released after spending just less than a year behind bars.

Earlier, Wolela explained that there could have been a number of reasons for this.

"Depending on their discussions with either the lawyers or the affected offender, management may decide against a staged release at which the media is present."

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