Oscar Pistorius faces parole board seven years after murder conviction

Oscar Pistorious has spent seven years behind bars for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Themba Hadebe - Pool/Getty Images

Former South Africa Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, jailed in 2016 for murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, will ask a parole board on Friday to release him early from prison, lawyers and prison officials said.

Steenkamp's family oppose his bid and will give spoken and written statements at the hearing on the impact the murder had on them, their lawyer, Tania Koen, told Reuters.

Arriving at Atteridgeville prison near capital city Pretoria on Friday morning, Reeva's mother, June Steenkamp, said she was feeling nervous.

"It's going to be very hard to be in the same room as him," she told reporters from her car.

Pistorius, behind bars for almost seven years, became eligible for parole after serving half of his 13-year prison sentence.

He met Reeva Steenkamp's father, Barry Steenkamp, last year when participating in a process known as victim-offender dialogue -- part of South Africa's restorative justice programme that brings parties affected by a crime together in a bid to achieve closure.

The independent parole board must determine, among other issues, whether Pistorius is at risk of committing similar crimes in the future, prison spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said.

It will also consider his disciplinary record, training programmes in prison and his physical and mental state, prison officials said.

Pistorius' lawyer, Julian Knight, told Reuters he was not in a "position to comment until such time as the Parole Board has made a decision".

The athlete, known as "Blade Runner" for his carbon-fibre prosthetic legs, went from public hero to convicted murderer in a trial that drew worldwide interest.

Once the darling of the Paralympic movement for pushing for greater recognition and acceptance of disabled athletes, Pistorius shot dead Steenkamp, a model and law student, in his bathroom on Valentine's Day in 2013.

Pistorius told the court he had believed Steenkamp was an intruder when he shot her several times.

He was jailed in 2016, initially for a six-year term, but had this sentence increased to 13 years after an appeal by prosecutors who argued the initial sentence was too lenient.