Pretoria high court hears of recent outbursts by Oscar Pistorius in prison

South African Olympic athlete is being sentenced for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp

Oscar Pistorius leaves the high court in Pretoria yesterday,  on the second day of his pre-sentencing hearing. Photograph: Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images

Oscar Pistorius leaves the high court in Pretoria yesterday, on the second day of his pre-sentencing hearing. Photograph: Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images

 

Convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius was aggressive during his recent stint behind bars, losing patience with prison staff and verbally abusing them, a nurse has testified in the paralympian’s new sentence hearing.

Giving evidence at Pretoria high court yesterday, where Pistorius is being sentenced for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on St Valentine’s morning 2013, prison nurse Charlotte Mashobane described an inmate prone to outbursts of anger and violence.

The former athlete was originally convicted of Ms Steenkamp’s culpable homicide and sentenced to prison for five years by the high court. He served only one year in Kgosi Mampuru Prison in Pretoria before being paroled by the authorities last October.

Following an appeal by the national prosecution authority, his conviction was overturned at the supreme court of appeal two months later and changed to murder, which carries a minimum 15-year sentence.

As a result, Pistorius is now being re-sentenced.

Ms Mashobane, Kgosi Mampuru Prison’s assistant health manager, told the court in aggravation of sentencing that on one occasion Pistorius became angry with her after she went to check on him while he was in his cell.

“He just shouted that I’m disturbing him and I must get out because he’s still sleeping,” she recalled from the witness box. “I listened to him and he covered himself with the sheet. He said ‘get out, get out’.”

Another time, she said, Pistorius came into the nurses’ duty room demanding feedback from her on a supplement and a “device” he requested earlier.

Not satisfied with the speed at which his demand was being handled, he slammed the table with a book while shaking with anger, the nurse said.

Ms Mashobane said Pistorius repeatedly had tantrums and shouted at her and other nurses, especially when she was trying to explain that he couldn’t have medication brought into the prison without a prescription.

Not unreasonable

During the defence’s cross-examination, lawyer Barry Roux suggested that Ms Mashobane was exaggerating Pistorius’s actions, and that his client’s outbursts were not unreasonable under the circumstances.

Earlier in the day the deceased’s father, Barry Steenkamp, testified that the world needed to see the injuries inflicted upon his daughter and that he was struggling to forgive Pistorius for killing her, as well as to stay sane.

“At times I think of the pain Reeva went through. I didn’t know if I was going mental. I took my diabetes injection and shoved it into my arms and stomach to see if I could feel the same pain,” a trembling Mr Steenkamp said, making jabbing motions at himself.

The hearing was adjourned to today, when the national prosecution authority’s last witness will give evidence.