PRETORIA: OSCAR PISTORIUS must "pay for what he's done", and his apology to the family of the girlfriend he shot dead was not sincere, a cousin of Reeva Steenkamp testified yesterday (Thursday).
Kim Martin said her family was not seeking revenge but urged the court to "give a message to society" rather than allow the athlete to remain at liberty.
Pistorius was acquitted of murdering Steenkamp last month, but was found guilty of culpable homicide - manslaughter - for shooting the model dead through a locked bathroom door at his Pretoria home on St Valentine's Day 2013.
Judge Thokozile Masipa said the state had not proved its case for murder but criticised the athlete's untruthful account in the witness box of what happened and found he was "clearly negligent".
Ms Martin was speaking in support of the state's argument that Pistorius should serve the maximum 15-year prison sentence. She said she did not believe his apology to Reeva Steenkamp's parents Barry and June was "sincere".
"I really believe Mr Pistorius needs to pay for what he has done," Ms Martin told the sentencing hearing yesterday. "My family are not seeking revenge," she added. "We just feel to take somebody's life, to shoot somebody behind the door who is unarmed, who is harmless, needs sufficient punishment."
Defence lawyers have argued for a sentence of three years of house arrest with community service.
Previous witnesses had told the court that South Africa's prisons were blighted by overcrowding, drugs, gangsterism and diseases including tuberculosis and Aids, and that, as a double amputee, Pistorius would be "highly vulnerable".
Zach Modise, acting national commissioner of correctional services, told the court that the Paralympic champion could be kept in the hospital wing of Pretoria central prison in a single cell equipped with a lavatory, washbasin, mattress, sheets, towels and a cupboard for his private belongings.
He said South African prisons compared favourably with similar facilities around the world, including Britain and the US, and that much of the criticism levelled against them was outdated.
Security around Pistorius has been stepped up as his sentencing draws near. A metal detector gate has been installed outside the entrance to the courtroom and the athlete's cousins who were escorting him to court have been replaced by a large contingent of armed police.
During an adjournment in the hearings yesterday, Pistorius's sister claimed that a self-confessed killer notorious in South Africa's criminal underworld mouthed a profanity at her after she sought to have him removed from the family bench.
Mikey Schultz, a friend of several witnesses who testified against Pistorius in the case, was spared jail for killing the South African mining magnate Brett Kebble in return for giving evidence against another criminal.
Aimee Pistorius told media she alerted police to Mr Schultz's presence on the Pistorius family bench because she did not want to be "associated" with him. She said that in response, Mr Schultz had mouthed "f--- you" as he left the court.
He told media outside the court that Miss Pistorius's claim was a "lie". "They're all liars, like Oscar," he said.
The state and the defence will present final arguments today.