Nel interrogates Vergeer on 'condoms' in report

2014-10-15 13:28
Advocate Gerrie Nel. (Themba Hadebe, AFP)

Advocate Gerrie Nel. (Themba Hadebe, AFP)

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Pretoria - 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.

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.
Therapy will be ‘different’

Pistorius's therapy in prison would be "different" from what he is currently receiving, Vergeer also told the court.

"He is currently receiving treatment. [If he goes to prison] it would be different to the current therapy."

She went on to say that prisons are there to "secure" society from people who were "truly a danger to society" which Pistorius was not.

Vergeer said even if Pistorius was sent to the health facilities section of a prison, that would be making an exception for him.

"I just believe that I cannot say that for the accused person per se that there are alternatives available," she said.

Nel said what bothered him about Vergeer's report was that all the factors she mentioned for Pistorius to not get a jail sentence, could apply to other prisoners as well.

She said different cases would require different factors to be taken into account.

"There will be factors taken into account on every individual case," she said.

Vergeer said she could not comment on a scenario where Pistorius was convicted of murder because the circumstances would have been different.

"I can only elaborate on what he was convicted for," she said.

On September 12, Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide on for the Valentine's Day 2013, shooting of Steenkamp in his Pretoria townhouse. The court found him not guilty of murder.

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 also found guilty of firing a pistol under a table at Tasha's restaurant in Johannesburg in January 2013 and not guilty of shooting through the open sunroof of a car in Modderfontein on 30 September 2012.

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

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