Nel wants Pistorius to serve jail sentence
Pretoria, October 15
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel has told the Oscar Pistorius sentencing hearing that anything other than a prison sentence for shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp would be ‘shockingly inappropriate’. Early on day three of the hearing in Pretoria, Nel resumed his relentless cross examination of probation officer Annette Vergeer, a defence witness, who said on Tuesday that Pistorius would be ‘broken as a person’ if he was jailed.
Mr Nel said to place the 27-year-old under house arrest and sentence him to community work for three years as she had recommended would be ‘too light’ a punishment.
The prosecutor also raised the prospect of a public backlash if the sentence for the double-amputee Paralympian was not harsh enough, saying the court had to guard against ‘the people taking the law into their own hands’.
“Our courts and society value human life,” he told Ms Vergeer, before asking her: “Don’t you think society wants a heavy punishment?”
“You are recommending house arrest… but the accused could be allowed to pursue his athletics, train, find a job and go to work and return to his house. That this accused be sentenced to three years correctional supervision, with 16 hours a month correctional duties, is shockingly inappropriate. It cannot even be considered,” added Mr Nel.
Ms Vergeer said Pistorius would be vulnerable to violence and placed in highly stressful situations because of his disability, should he be given a custodial sentence.
“The death of the deceased and the period since have been a far bigger punishment than incarceration,” she said.
But Mr Nel countered that people in wheelchairs in prison were more vulnerable than those with prosthetics, and accused Ms Vergeer, who insisted she had almost three decades of experience, of being ‘irresponsible’ for coming to court and not being as knowledgeable as he said she should be.
Pistorius, who was convicted last month of killing Ms Steenkamp on February 14 last year, could receive a fine and a suspended jail sentence or up to 15 years in prison after being found guilty of culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter in the UK.
The sentencing hearing resumes on Thursday morning.