South African track star Oscar Pistorius should serve three years of partial house arrest and community service for the negligent killing of his girlfriend, a witness said on Monday at the first day of the athlete’s sentencing.
The 27-year-old Paralympic and Olympic star, whose lower legs were amputated as a baby, was convicted of culpable homicide last month for the shooting of 29-year-old law graduate and model Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013.
The case has riveted South Africans and gripped millions around the world, shocked by the fall of a man widely admired as an inspiration for disabled people and a symbol of triumph over adversity.
Arguing against a prison term, correctional services social worker Joel Maringa said Pistorius was a “co-operative” person who should be sentenced to three years of “correctional supervision”, which would mean the athlete would have to spend a portion of the day at home.
Maringa also said Pistorius should carry out community service, such as sweeping the streets outside museums in Pretoria.
State prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who is pushing for a lengthy prison sentence, described the social worker’s recommendations as “shockingly inappropriate”.
Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned the hearing early as Nel requested time to review documents before he calls at least two of the state’s witnesses on Tuesday. Sentencing is expected to conclude by the end of the week.
Earlier the court heard from Pistorius’ psychologist, Dr Lore Hartzenberg, who said the athlete was a caring, remorseful person who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and sometimes spent sessions weeping as she held him.
“What we are left with, My Lady, we are left with a broken man who has lost everything,” Hartzenberg said, as Pistorius stared at the floor in the packed Pretoria courtroom. “It is foreseen that Mr. Pistorius will require intensive and ongoing psychotherapy.”