Pistorius trial: Society won't be satisfied with house arrest

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel has dismissed the suggestion that Pistorius should be sentenced to house arrest.

Oscar Pistorius arriving at the High Court in Pretoria ahead of his sentencing on 15 October 2014. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

PRETORIA - State prosecutor Gerrie Nel has dismissed the suggestion that Oscar Pistorius be sentenced to house arrest, arguing that society would not be satisfied with such a punishment.

This emerged during cross-examination of the defence team's probation officer in the High Court in Pretoria today, as they attempt to secure him a minimum sentence.

The athlete was last month found guilty of culpable homicide for the Valentine's Day shooting in his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.

Nel says the sentencing of a person who is responsible for the loss of a life should be serious.

"Taking the life of another human being is always a serious offense, which leads to outrage and demands heavy punishment and that sentences should indicate to society that our courts and society value human life."

Nel questioned probation officer Annette Vergeer whether three years of house arrest with two days of community service would meet society's expectations.

Vergeer said it was not for society to decide and that a sentence should not be dictated by the community, but rather serve a specific purpose.

Nel then challenged the witness's claims that Pistorius would be unable to receive his current psychological treatment.

He said because Pistorius was unemployed and unable to generate funds to pay for this treatment, sending him to prison would be a favour because he would receive it for free.

Vergeer earlier conceded that despite being a registered probation officer, she is unfamiliar with prison regulations and legislation.

The state has argued South Africa's prisons are of such a standard that the Correctional Services Department was able to convince British courts to extradite honeymoon murder accused Shrien Dewani.

It's moved to discredit Vergeer, who has told the court that prisons are overcrowded and rife with gangsterism and rape.

Nel has accused Vergeer of discriminating against consensual homosexual sex.

"Why is it a negative factor that there are condoms available?" he asked.

Vergeer replied, "With all due respect, my lady, why is it a positive factor? It's a male prison."

Nel says Vergeer's report shows her bias against prisons.

"This is just a clear indication of your bias against prisons is that you would mention that in a report that there are condoms available. Why is that negative?"

"If that's a reality my lady, I can't see why I can't mention it," Vergeer responded.

Vergeer has been excused and sentencing proceedings will resume after lunch.

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Follow the court proceedings live on EWN's Oscar Pistorius trial blog.