By Mfuneko Toyana
PRETORIA Oscar Pistorius will be committed to the hospital wing of one of South Africa's toughest prisons if the double-amputee Olympic track star is sentenced to jail time for killing his girlfriend, the head of the prison service said on Thursday.
On the fourth day of Pistorius' sentencing hearing, Zach Modise, who has worked in the prison service for 35 years, was questioned by the defense about conditions at the Pretoria Central Prison, Pistorius' most likely destination because of its disabled facilities.
The jail was the execution site of dozens of black political activists by South Africa's apartheid government, which handed over power after the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994.
It is also the home of apartheid death squad leader Eugene de Kock, known as 'Prime Evil', and is known for a vicious gang culture. Beatings, male rape and murder cases have been reported there in South African media.
However, Modise said the reality of the prison was a long way from the popular perception and said Pistorius' disability - his lower legs were amputated as a baby - would ensure he was kept in a separate wing.
"The Department of Correctional Services is ready to admit and detain people with disabilities," said Modise, who was also quizzed by defense lawyer Barry Roux about the problem of tuberculosis among inmates at the prison.
Pressed to give details about the prison's population and facilities for the disabled, Modise conceded that there was only one resident doctor for every 7,000 inmates.
Modise said Pistorius would have access to a cell of his Audiologist Centurion own and that a suitability test would be conducted to determine the athlete's particular needs.
On Tuesday probation officer Annette Vergeer, testifying for the defense, said prison would "break" Pistorius because of his disability and psychological problems.
Throughout the sentencing hearing, the defense has been fighting to keep the 27-year-old out of jail, citing his disability as a reason.
On Monday, a social worker recommended Pistorius be sentenced to three years of community service and house arrest at his uncle's Pretoria mansion.
Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide for the negligent killing of law graduate Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year when he fired four shots through a toilet door in the mistaken belief an intruder was lurking behind it.
Culpable homicide in South Africa is punishable by up to 15 years in prison in the most serious cases, or by a suspended sentence, house arrest and community service in lighter ones.
The state and the defense will present final arguments on Friday, after which Judge Thokozile Masipa is expected to retire for several days to considering her judgment.
(Editing by Ed Cropley and Dominic Evans)
PRETORIA Oscar Pistorius shuffled through a Pretoria court without his prosthetic legs on Wednesday to show how vulnerable he is as the Paralympian seeks to avoid prison for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
The 29-year-old faces a minimum 15-year jail term for the Valentine's Day killing in 2013 in a case that has attracted worldwide interest and divided South Africa. He will be sentenced on July 6.
Pistorius has always said he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he fired four shots through a locked toilet door in his Pretoria home, killin
Oscar Pistorius' representatives have named the substance found in his bedroom after the shooting death of his girlfriend as Testis compositum, and say it is an herbal remedy used "in aid of muscle recovery."
A product called Testis compositum is also marketed as a sexual enhancer, good for lack of stamina. Some online retailers advertise oral and injectable forms as testosterone boosters.
South African police say they found needles in Pistorius' bedroom along with the substance, which Audiologist Centurion they initially named as testosterone. Prosecutors later withdrew that statement identifying the substance and said it had been sent for laboratory tests.
Pistorius family spokesperson Lunice Johnston said in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday that the athlete's lawyers confirmed that the substance is Testis compositum.
South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius is spending time his family today after the athlete was freed on $113,000 bail Friday.
"We realise that the law must run its course, and we would not have it any other way," the Olympian's uncle, Arnold Pistorius said in a statement on Saturday.
The Pistorius family expressed their gratitude that the former Olympian was allowed out of jail before the trial.
"This constitutes a moment of relief under these otherwise very grave circumstances" said Arnold Pistorius."We are extremely thankful that Oscar is now home."
Pistorius, 26, is charged with premeditated murder in the Valentine's Day shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
While the prosecution argued that the world-renowned athlete was a flight risk and had a history of violence, South African Magistrate Desmond Nair, who presided over the case, disagreed.
Track-star Oscar Pistorius is out of jail after he was freed on $113,000 bail Friday after a four day bail hearing. The contentious hearing played out similar to a trial with the prosecution and defense laying out their version of events in a case that has captivated both a South African and an international audience.
FULL COVERAGE: Oscar Pistorius
"He regards South Africa as his permanent place of abode, he has no intention to relocate to any other country" Nair said during his two hour ruling, before concluding with, "the accused has made the case to be released on bail."
Pistoriuis will have to adhere to strict conditions to stay out of jail before the trial. He must give up all his guns, he cannot drink alcohol or return to the home where the shooting occurred, and he must check in with a police department twice a week.
Oscar Pistorius is believed to be staying at an uncle's house as he awaits trial.
RELATED: Oscar Pistorius Case: Key Elements to the Murder Investigation
During the hearing, the prosecution argued that Pistorius shot Steenkamp after an argument, while the defense laid out an alternate version of events saying Pistorius mistook his girlfriend for an intruder.
Nair took issue with the head detective originally in charge of the case, who he said "blundered" in gathering evidence and was removed from the case after it was revealed he is facing attempted murder charges.
RELATED: Oscar Pistorius Case: Lead Det. Hilton Botha to Be Booted From Investigation Team
After the magistrate's decision, cheers erupted in the courtroom from the Pistorius camp. Pistorius' trial is expected to start in six to eight months, with his next pre-trial court date in June.
Reeva Steenkamp Family Reaction
Steenkamp's father, Barry Steenkamp told the South African Beeld newspaper that the 26-year-old athlete will "suffer" if he is lying about accidentally shooting 29-year-old model.
PHOTOS: Oscar Pistorius Charged with Murder
Barry Steenkamp went on to say that the Pistorius will have to "live with his conscience" if he intentionally shot Reeva.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
JOHANNESBURG The family lawyer of Oscar Pistorius said on Sunday that the double amputee athlete's brother is facing a culpable homicide charge for a 2008 road death.
Lawyer Kenny Oldwage would not confirm details of the case Carl Pistorius is facing, but in a statement said Carl had appeared in court the day before his brother's bail hearing last week, and is due in court again at the end of March.
"Carl deeply regrets the accident," Oldwage said in a statement. "Blood tests conducted by the police at the time proved that he had not been under the influence of alcohol, confirming that it was a tragic road accident after the deceased collided with Carl's car."
In his st
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NEW YORK - Placido Domingo's latest project is music to the ears of the hearing-impaired.
The tenor, paired with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, is speaking for a global effort called "Hear the World" to raise awareness about hearing loss and to offer the latest technology to those in need -- especially in developing countries.
Hearing aids will be delivered to poor children in the Guatemalan jungle; hearing-challenged youths in Pretoria, South Africa, will be taught how to function alongside classmates who hear; and youngsters in remote parts of the island of Fiji will be tested for the first time.
"Music is my emotional need. I therefore feel sad for anyone who cannot hear music," Domingo told The Associated Press. "Science has made incredible strides in helping people with hearing trouble, but the majority of the world's population is still unaware of this fact."
Domingo and members of the Vienna orchestra were expected at a Carnegie Hall news conference on Tuesday to announce the new, nonprofit Hear the World Foundation, based in Zurich, Switzerland. The effort is sponsored by the Swiss company Phonak, a leading high-tech hearing device manufacturer.
An estimated 1 in 10 Americans are hearing-impaired, according to the American Academy of Audiology, and abroad, the World Health Organization says at least 160 million people in developing countries are affected.
The foundation, whose activities start in January with an initial budget of about $400,000, will focus on educating the public about the social and emotional implications of hearing loss. A key issue is some people's reluctance to use a hearing-enhancing device for fear of appearing elderly or handicapped, or being ridiculed.
"There seems to be a stigma about being hard-of-hearing," Domingo said. "Let's consider the difference between seeing trouble and hearing trouble. No one gives a second thought to wearing glasses in order to improve sight, but too many people would rather ask five times, 'What did you say?' than wear a hearing aid."