'Pistorius needs to pay for what he did to Reeva', claims cousin

By Andre Janse van Vuuren

A cousin of Reeva Steenkamp told the sentencing hearing of Oscar Pistorius that he should serve time in prison for shooting his girlfriend through a toilet door in his house.

"My family are not people who are seeking revenge, we just feel that to take someone's life, to shoot somebody behind a door, that is unarmed, that is harmless, needs sufficient punishment," Kim Martin told the High Court today in South Africa's capital, Pretoria.

Martin described as inadequate a sentence of three years' house arrest with community service suggested by two witnesses, a probation officer and a social worker, called by defense lawyer Barry Roux.


Martin was testifying in the fourth day of the hearing to determine Pistorius's sentence for his manslaughter conviction in the killing of Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year. Judge Thokozile Masipa (inset) will hand down the sentence, which could be as many as 15 years in prison and as little as a fine.

Masipa cleared Pistorius of murder charges before convicting him of culpable homicide for killing Steenkamp when he fired four hollow -point bullets through a toilet door in his house. Pistorius said he thought Steenkamp was an intruder.

"I feel Mr Pistorius needs to pay for what he has 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 the family, but also what he's done to his family," Martin said. "We need to give a message to society that you cannot do this and get away with it."

Martin was the first witness called by prosecutor Gerrie Nel at the hearing. The second, Zach Modise, the acting national commissioner for correctional services, told the court that people with disabilities, such as double-amputee Pistorius, can be accommodated in prison and some may have access to a private cell.

Modise's statements contradict testimony by Annette Vergeer, a probation officer called by the defence who said South Africa's prison system couldn't provide the facilities Pistorius needs.

He said that as head of prisons, he had the power to determine where any inmate can be detained "depending on the individual needs of the particular offender".

Pistorius's cell would have a toilet, a sink, a bed and a cupboard for his private belongings, he said.

Yesterday, Nel challenged Vergeer on how she verified her facts about prison conditions, calling her "irresponsible" for using her visit to a single prison to generalize about all detention facilities in the country.

He also criticized her for saying that there were no baths in prisons and that Pistorius wouldn't be able to keep his prosthetic legs.