Oscar Pistorius must get community service: Prison official

Pretoria: A South African prison official yesterday recommended Oscar Pistorius clean a museum as punishment for shooting dead his girlfriend, sparking prosecution anger in a court weighing what sentence to give the Paralympian.

Defence witness, Joel Maringa, a social worker in South Africa’s notoriously crowded and brutal jails, said Pistorius should not go to prison, but receive “correctional supervision” through three years of house arrest. He should also clean a Pretoria museum for 16 hours a month, Maringa said.

Oscar Pistorius is greeted by a well-wisher during his sentencing hearing at the High Court in Pretoria yesterday. pic/AFP

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel described Maringa’s suggestion as “shockingly inappropriate”.

Pistorius was found guilty last month of negligently killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013.

The 27-year-old double amputee athlete was cleared of the more serious charge of murder. The lesser verdict shocked the country and fuelled criticism of South Africa’s legal system.

His sentencing, which began yesterday, was expected to run for most of the week. The ‘Blade Runner’ could face up to 15 years in prison, or could dodge a jail term altogether with a non-custodial sentence.

“We are basically saying that Oscar Pistorius should not be destroyed,” said Maringa, adding that correctional supervision would mean “he will get an opportunity to restructure and modify his behaviour.” Reeva's father Barry held his head with his hand as Maringa spoke.

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