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Eventful day in Oscar trial

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There were tears, swearing, sarcasm, and even a birthday during sentencing proceedings for paralympian Oscar Pistorius in the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.

Pistorius’s lawyer Barry Roux had to apologise for losing his equilibrium with prosecutor Gerrie Nel, self-confessed Brett Kebble killer Mikey Schultz allegedly swore at Pistorius’s sister Aimee, and Judge Thokozile Masipa celebrated her birthday.

The public gallery burst into applause as Nel wished Masipa a happy birthday.

During proceedings, Pistorius heard that if he went to jail his prostheses would not be taken away and he could do welding, artistic painting, and spray painting. There were gym, sports and recreational facilities in prison.

This emerged during questioning by Roux and Nel of acting national commissioner of correctional services, Zach Modise.

“We also have offenders that are taking part in athletics, soccer, rugby and boxing.”

When asked if prisons had sufficient facilities, Modise said that if Pistorius was imprisoned he would go to a place that catered for his disability.

“There should be no doubt that Mr Pistorius, or any other accused with disabilities, shall be accommodated properly,” Modise said to questioning from Nel.

However, Roux said he had received many calls from department officials.

“Let me disclose to you… I received many calls from warders telling me that there are no baths, shower doors broken,” Roux said.

On September 12, Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide for the Valentine’s Day 2013 shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his Pretoria townhouse. The court found him not guilty of murdering Steenkamp.

Testifying before Modise, Steenkamp’s cousin Kim Martin said the family did not want revenge, but punishment that fitted the crime.

“My family are not seeking revenge,” Martin said to questions from Nel.

“We just feel that if you take someone’s life, shoot behind a door, shoot an unarmed person… you need sufficient punishment.”

Later, Roux was forced to apologise after Masipa criticised him for a sarcastic comment he made to Nel.

“I think Mr Nel must just take the oath because he is giving evidence,” Roux snapped.

He was reacting to comments Nel made to Modise, telling him that in every government department or organisation in the country there were people who did not follow the rules.

During the lunch break, Schultz denied swearing at Pistorius’s sister Aimee.

“They’re the victims once again. The Pistorius’s are clearly a bunch of liars along with Oscar,” the former boxer said.

When court was adjourned, Aimee Pistorius was seen crying. Her brother Carl comforted her as she wiped tears away.

Carl Pistorius told reporters that Schultz, who came in a few minutes before the case adjourned for lunch, mouthed “fuck you” to his sister.

Schultz said he was in court to support Steenkamp and her family. He said when asked why he thought Aimee Pistorius was crying, he said: “She realised her brother was going to jail”.

Schultz left court with former soccer player Marc Batchelor and Jared Mortimer, both who have been in alleged altercations with Pistorius.

Roux and Nel indicated that they would present their closing arguments on Friday.

During sentencing, which started on Monday, Roux called four witnesses — the athlete’s psychologist Dr Lore Hartzenberg, his manager Petrus van Zyl, and social workers Joel Maringa and Annette Vergeer. Nel called Martin and Modise.

Pistorius shot Steenkamp through the locked door of the toilet, apparently thinking she was an intruder about to emerge and attack him. She was hit in the hip, arm, and head.

Pistorius was found guilty of firing a pistol under a table at Tasha’s restaurant in Johannesburg in January 2013. He was found not guilty of shooting through the open sunroof of a car in Modderfontein on September 30, 2012, and of illegal possession of ammunition. SAPA

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