Vergeer biased against prisons: Nel

By admin
15 October 2014

The social worker who recommended correctional supervision for Reeva Steenkamp's killer Oscar Pistorius is biased against prisons, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Wednesday.

During sentencing proceedings prosecutor Gerrie Nel referred Annette Vergeer to a section in her report on Pistorius, where she mentioned that condoms were freely available in prisons.

"Are you discriminating against consensual homosexual sex?" Nel asked her.

Nel was cross-examining her on her report on Pistorius, which she presented for the defence on Tuesday. Last month the paralympian was found guilty of the culpable homicide of Steenkamp, his girlfriend.

'It's not that I'm against it, it's just that people in a prison environment will be exposed to it'

In Vergeer's report, which the defence had paid her to compile, she recommended that the paralympic athlete get three years of correctional supervision and 16 hours of community service a month for killing Steenkamp.

"It's not that I'm against it, it's just that people in a prison environment will be exposed to it," she replied.

"It's just a clear indication of your bias against prisons. Is it a problem if there are condoms available in stores?" Nel asked.

She said she mentioned the condoms in prisons merely to state a fact.

"What about other facts like there is water in prisons, or gardens?" Nel countered.

There were many furrowed brows in court as Vergeer gave a long, rambling answer.

"The problem is there is very little privacy in prisons so people will be exposed to it [homosexual sex]," she said.

Nel accused her of making sweeping statements about prison conditions and that she was against sending Pistorius to jail.

"I'm not sending the accused to prison. I can only provide an opinion to the court," she said.

On September 12 Judge Thokozile Masipa found Pistorius guilty of the culpable homicide of model and law graduate Steenkamp, but not guilty of her murder. Pistorius had claimed he thought there was a burglar in his toilet when he fired four shots through the locked door in the early hours of February 14 last year, killing Steenkamp.

Masipa also found Pistorius guilty of discharging a firearm in public, when he shot from his friend Darren Fresco's Glock pistol under a table at Tasha's restaurant in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, in January 2013.

Pistorius was found not guilty on two firearms-related charges -- illegal possession of ammunition, and shooting through the open sunroof of a car with his 9mm pistol while driving with friends in Modderfontein on September 30, 2012.

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