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Official available to speak on conditions of prisons in Oscar trial

The justice department will make an official available to provide information in Oscar Pistorius's sentencing proceedings in the High Court in Pretoria relating to the conditions in prisons, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

“We have made an official available to the court as and when required to speak on issues relating to the conditions in our correctional centres,” department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga told Sapa on Wednesday.

He declined to comment on a report by the SABC that the department would meet prosecutor Gerrie Nel on the Vergeer report on Wednesday morning ahead of the sentencing proceedings of the convicted paralympian.

“I don’t know about that. They did not get that from me,” said Mhaga.

On Tuesday, Nel cross-examined Annette Vergeer, a probation officer and social worker, in the sentencing proceedings in the High Court in Pretoria.

Vergeer presented her report which the defence paid her to compile.

She recommended that Pistorius — who has been convicted of culpable homicide for shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp — be sentenced to three years of correctional supervision and community service.

Vergeer said she did not believe the double amputee would be safe or provided with the right facilities for his disability in prison.

“They cannot eliminate his vulnerability and they cannot secure his safety,” she told the court.

Nel questioned why she did not trust prison officials as being professional people who knew how to deal with people with disabilities.

On September 12, Judge Thokozile Masipa found the paralympian not guilty of murdering Steenkamp in his Pretoria townhouse on Valentine’s Day last year, but convicted him of culpable homicide.

Pistorius has maintained throughout that he shot Steenkamp through the locked door of the toilet, thinking she was an intruder about to emerge and attack him.

Masipa also found Pistorius guilty of discharging a firearm in public during an incident at a Johannesburg restaurant.


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