Nel: How will house arrest deter other criminals?

2014-10-15 12:01
State prosecutor Gerrie Nel. (Kim Ludbrook, Pool, AP)

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel. (Kim Ludbrook, Pool, AP)

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Pretoria - A social worker struggled to explain to the North Gauteng High Court on Wednesday how house arrest for Oscar Pistorius would deter other criminals.

"What in this particular matter must the court, in its sentence, deter others from?" prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked Annette Vergeer, who is also a parole officer.

Nel was cross-examining her during sentencing proceedings for Pistorius, who was found guilty last month of the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp, his girlfriend.

"The fact that he used a firearm and that people are negligent with the use of a firearm," Vergeer replied.

"How can that be what you had in mind? The sentence should deter people from owning legal firearms?" Nel asked.

Correctional supervision

On Tuesday Vergeer presented her report on Pistorius, which the defence had paid her to compile, to the court. In it she recommended that the paralympic athlete get three years of correctional supervision and community service for killing Steenkamp.

She cited prison overcrowding, understaffing, and a lack of facilities for the disabled as the reasons for her recommendation.

"I'm not exactly sure what I should answer on," Vergeer replied on Wednesday, looking confused.

At one point Nel stood, his chin propped on his hand, as Vergeer rattled off a list that had nothing to do with what he wanted to know. She spoke of an offender's remorse, crime statistics, and the seriousness of the offence.

When she had finished, Nel said: "You haven't answered my question."

Nel finally asked her: "Should people be deterred from firing four shots through a locked door in the middle of the night?"

"In fact so, My Lady," said Vergeer.

Judge Thokozile Masipa last month found Pistorius guilty of the culpable homicide of 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 14 February last year, killing Steenkamp. The State had argued he killed her during an argument.

Masipa 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 30 September 2012.

Read more on:    gerrie nel  |  reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  pistorius trial

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