Prison torture merely an allegation - Modise

2014-10-16 12:16
(File: AP)

(File: AP)

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Pretoria - An increase in torture in prisons was merely an allegation, acting national correctional services commissioner Zach Modise told the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.

"The department of correctional services has come under fire in Parliament for the increase in torture cases," Barry Roux, for Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, told Modise.

He was reading from a report in The Star from Wednesday, on Modise's presentation to Parliament this week.

"My Lady, there is this allegation," Modise replied.

Roux was cross-examining Modise, who earlier testified for the State during sentencing proceedings for Pistorius, found guilty last month of the culpable homicide of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel earlier questioned Modise to deal with concerns raised by a social worker, who had testified for the defence, that there were not adequate facilities in prison for disabled people, and that Pistorius would not be safe.

"There should be no doubt that Mr Pistorius, or any other accused with a disability, shall be accommodated properly," Modise told Nel.

He referred to South Africa successfully deporting honeymoon murder accused Shrien Dewani from the UK to stand trial in Cape Town.

"There are places where we can accommodate people like Mr Shrien Dewani who feel very vulnerable."

Prison visits

Earlier Modise said magistrates and judges go to prisons around the country and have access to inmates.

"My Lady, judges and magistrates have access to any correctional service facility. They can interview any inmate," Modise said.

"Even the judges in the Constitutional Court visit our facilities."

As Modise spoke, Steenkamp's father Barry briefly looked at Pistorius, who sat writing, with his head down.

Modise said judges and magistrates talk to inmates, take complaints from them and deal with the complaints.

When a new prisoner goes to jail, the person gets assessed in a period of 21 days to determine how and where to accommodate them, he said. They took social, psychological and health needs into account.

He said there are people who had different "vulnerabilities" and they had to ensure these vulnerabilities are not exploited.

On 12 September 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 14 February last year, killing Steenkamp.

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:    reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  thokozile masipa  |  crime  |  pistorius trial  |  prisons

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