Twenty months after shooting and killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his house, Oscar Pistorius has finally begun his prison sentence. The Olympian has been ordered to serve five years in jail for culpable homicide.
At Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Petoria, South Africa, Pistorius spent his first day behind bars in his own cell. He was placed in the hospital wing of the jail, where eight other disabled offenders are held.
During the sentencing hearing, Pistorius’ lawyers lobbied for him to be placed under house arrest because of his condition. Prison officials say he is not in any danger.
Officials described Pistorius as tense and nervous when he was fingerprinted upon his arrival. Prison commissioner Zebilon Monama told the South African Press Association that the jail’s chaplain and psychologist met with Pistorius, as he tried to adjust to his new surroundings. He underwent a medical examination before going into his cell.
There has been concern among other inmates that Pistorius will receive preferential treatment, prompting the leader of a prison gang to threaten having the 27-year-old killed. Pistorius’ single cell appears to be temporary, and he’s expected to be moved to the G-block section of the prison.
“In G-block, they have ramps for people with wheelchairs. It’s where people who are studying live, and high-profile people,” former Kgosi Mampuru inmate Eric Viljoen told the Guardian. “G-block is the only section without steps. It’s next to the hospital and it’s where we believe Oscar will be staying. The only problem is that the ramps are tiled and very slippery. There’s a small clinic there without beds, so it’s not called the hospital section.”
Ofentse Morwane of the correctional services department has stated that Pistorius will be treated like any other inmate. He told CNN that Pistorius will undergo orientation on his second day in jail.
If Pistorius is treated like the other prisoners, he could be forced to live in somewhat poor conditions. Viljoen, who has a prosthetic leg, says his cell housed 38 men, even though it was meant for about 20 people.
Pistorius will be eligible for release after 10 months. Judge Thokozile Masipa could’ve given the double-amputee as much as a 15-year sentence for the conviction.