Pistorius should get community service, says prison official

 A South African prison official has recommended that star Paralympian Oscar Pistorius clean a Pretoria museum for 16 hours a month as punishment for shooting dead his lover Reeva Steenkamp. -- PHOTO: AFP
 A South African prison official has recommended that star Paralympian Oscar Pistorius clean a Pretoria museum for 16 hours a month as punishment for shooting dead his lover Reeva Steenkamp. -- PHOTO: AFP

PRETORIA (AFP) - A South African prison official has recommended that star Paralympian Oscar Pistorius clean a Pretoria museum for 16 hours a month as punishment for shooting dead his lover Reeva Steenkamp.

Joel Maringa, a social worker in South Africa's notoriously crowded and brutal jails, told a sentencing hearing that Pistorius should not go to jail, but receive "correctional supervision" for three years under house arrest.

Pistorius was found guilty last month of negligently killing his girlfriend in the early hours of Valentine's Day 2013.

The 27-year-old double amputee was cleared of the more serious charge of murder, a verdict that shocked the country and fuelled criticism of South Africa's legal system.

The "Blade Runner" could face up to 15 years in prison or could dodge a jail term altogether with a non-custodial sentence.

"The accused will benefit from correctional supervision," said Maringa, adding that "he will get an opportunity to restructure and modify his behaviour."

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel described Maringa's suggestion as "shockingly inappropriate". In tough cross-examination, Nel questioned whether Maringa understood the seriousness of the crime that Pistorius had committed, after he admitted he did not have detailed knowledge of the case.

Reeva's father Barry Steenkamp held his head with his hand as Maringa spoke.

It emerged during evidence that Barry Steenkamp had suffered a stroke after Reeva's death, and her mother has repeatedly collapsed on the floor in tears, their lives shattered by the tragedy.

A friend of Reeva's, Desi Myers, expressed her disbelief at the community service suggestion, saying: "I don't want to think, I don't want to talk."

Maringa was one of three witnesses called by Pistorius's defence lawyers Monday, who are fighting to keep him out of jail.

His agent testified about his charity work and earlier Pistorius's therapist told the court that he suffered genuine remorse after shooting dead Steenkamp.