Oscar Pistorius back in court for day four of sentencing hearing

The prosecution and defence have finished calling witnesses after four days of the Oscar Pistorius sentencing hearing in Pretoria.

Closing arguments will be heard on Friday before Judge Thokozile Masipa decides whether the six-time Paralympic champion will be jailed. Her decision could come as early as next Tuesday.

Pistorius, 27, could receive a fine and a suspended jail sentence or up to 15 years in prison after he was found guilty of culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter in the UK, for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14, 2013.

He was acquitted of murder after he said he had mistaken Ms Steenkamp for an intruder in his home.

Day four at the North Gauteng High Court began with Ms Steenkamp’s cousin Kim Martin telling the court that the athlete ‘needs to pay for what he has done’.

“Everybody has suffered,” she said. “IĀ feel Mr Pistorius needs to pay for what he’s done, for taking Reeva’s life, for what he’s done to my uncle and to my aunt, what he’s done to the rest of my family but also what he has done to his family.”

Ms Martin, the first prosecution witness of the day, was completing her evidence to the court after speaking on Wednesday for the first time on how the death of the model and law graduate affected her family.

The next witness to give evidence was Zacharira Modise, acting national director for the Correctional Services, who was asked about the ability of the prison service to accommodate the double amputee.

He said that although some prisons are ‘very old’, every region has a ‘facility where we are able to cater for people with disabilities’.

Asked by Pistorius’ defence lawyer Barry Roux whether his client would be kept in the hospital section of prison, Mr Modise said that would be decided only after an assessment of his needs once he arrived in prison.

Pressed by Mr Roux, Mr Modise indicated that the assessment would find that Pistorius’ disability meant he should serve any jail sentence in a hospital wing – rather than be kept with other inmates in the main section of the prison.

Mr Roux asked Modise about reports that threats had been made against the athlete by inmates, but Modise said he was not aware of any threats.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who began the day wishing Judge Masipa a happy birthday, said earlier in the sentencing hearing that anything but a prison sentence for the athlete would be ‘shockingly inappropriate’.

The hearing will resume on Friday for closing arguments.