South Africa wants a harsher punishment for Oscar Pistorius – Nel

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - OCTOBER 15, 2014

If killers get sentences like house arrest and community service, people will start taking the law into their own hands, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Wednesday.

"Society will lose trust in the judiciary. They will take the law into their own hands," state prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, told social worker and parole officer, Annette Vergeer, during the sentencing proceedings for paralympian Oscar Pistorius.

Nel was cross-examining her on her report on Pistorius, which she presented for the defence during proceedings.

In Vergeer's report, which the defence had paid her to compile, she recommended that the paralympic athlete get three years of correctional supervision and 16 hours of community service a month for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

"Would you agree with me, madam, that society demands that if you kill someone there should be a harsh punishment?"

Vergeer paused before answering; "I cannot dispute that, but you have to look at the circumstances, at the accused in totality."

Nel asked her; "The accused armed himself, walked to a bathroom, shot four times, caused a horrible death. Don't you think society would want to punish him?"

"I don't think it's in the hands of society to punish him," Vergeer said.