Defence witness 'irresponsible': Nel


A defence witness in Oscar Pistorius's sentencing procedures does not know how prisons are run, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Wednesday.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel continued with the cross-examination of probation officer and social worker Annette Vergeer on the Correctional Services Act and conditions in prisons.

"What I find very interesting that you want to come to court and deal with conditions in prison and you don't know how the prison is run. How can you do that?" Nel asked her.

"I find it so irresponsible that you would come to court and give an opinion but you don't know anything about the correctional services department and you're employed by another state department."

Vergeer responded: "It is an opinion My Lady, from experience."

Nel said it was "worrying" that Vergeer testified on conditions in prisons but did not verify information she obtained.

She told the court she called the social workers' office in a prison and spoke to a person, who did not want to be named, on the conditions but did not verify the information.

Nel said Vergeer stated it as a fact in her report that prisons did not have facilities like baths for physical disabled people.

She conceded that she never specifically asked if there were baths.

Vergeer presented her report on Tuesday, which the defence paid her to compile.

On Wednesday, Nel asked Vergeer if she was aware that prisoners could write and request a single cell and that medical staff could also write to authorities suggesting a single cell for a prisoner.

He said that there was a regulation that no medical devices, like prosthesis, be taken away from prisoners.

Vergeer said she did not know that.

"I'm just worried that you come to court as a probation officer in private business and complain about the conditions of prison, but you don't know this," said Nel.

"My lady I don't know every single act," Vergeer said.

She said she testified on her experience and what she had been told in interviews.

On September 12, Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide on for the Valentine's 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 and not guilty of shooting

through the open sunroof of a car in Modderfontein on September 30, 2012.


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