Prisons cater for people with special needs

By Drum Digital
21 October 2014

The department of correctional services was equipped to deal with people who have disabilities like Oscar Pistorius, Judge Thokozile Masipa said in the High Court in Pretoria.

The department of correctional services was equipped to deal with people who have disabilities like Oscar Pistorius, Judge Thokozile Masipa said in the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday.

"If the accused had to get a custodial sentence it would not be the first time the correctional services department would be confronted with an inmate with a disability," Masipa said.

"I have no reason therefore that the accused would present the department of correctional service with an insurmountable challenge."

She said that there was no dispute that Pistorius's disability was a "big

challenge".

Masipa dealt with defence witnesses social worker Joel Maringa and social worker and probation officer Annette Vergeer.

"Taking note of the evidence of Mr Maringa, I was not impressed by the evidence of Miss Vergeer," she said.

Vergeer's evidence did not aspire the court, she said. "It was disappointing and had a negative impact on her credibility as a witness." She said prosecutor Gerrie Nel was correct to describe her evidence as "sketchy, uninformed" and to negatively reflect the prisons on South Africa.

"It was unhelpful... I find it quite disturbing from someone with 28 years of experience," she said.

As Masipa spoke Reeva Steenkamp's father Barry sat with his arms folded.

On September 12, Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide on for the Valentines Day 2013, shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his Pretoria townhouse. The court found him not guilty of murdering Steenkamp.

Pistorius shot Steenkamp through the locked door of the toilet, apparently thinking she was an intruder about to emerge and attack him. She was hit in the hip, arm, and head.

Pistorius was found guilty of firing a pistol under a table at Tasha's restaurant in Johannesburg in January 2013. He was found not guilty of shooting through the open sunroof of a car in Modderfontein on September 30, 2012, and of illegal possession of ammunition.

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