News » Opinion » Editorials
This country hears so much about gender-based violence (GBV) – and sees so much written – that it has almost become immune to what is our biggest social tragedy. Yet, this week, many were shocked out of complacency and into anger.
That was because AfriForum released into the public domain shocking closed-circuit TV footage of Jaco Swart viciously attacking his wife Nicoleen in 2018. Swart repeatedly punched her in the face and then carried out a flying drop kick to her head, putting his full body weight into it.
The high-resolution images have been shared far and wide on social media, particularly in the wake of what many people regarded as a lenient sentence for the crime of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Swart was fined R20 000 and given an additional wholly suspended three-year prison sentence. The broader story of what happened to Nicoleen shows, though, that our police and prosecution authorities still have to take seriously the battering of women.
ALSO READ: WATCH: Jaco Swart gets lenient fine despite footage of brutal wife beating
When Nicoleen initially laid charges, these were dropped. So she approached AfriForum for help and former prosecutor Gerrie Nel made representations to the National Prosecuting Authority, which resulted in the charges against Swart being reinstated.
However, the prosecution was unable to admit the videos as evidence in aggravation because it had not properly authenticated them – nor did it ask for time to do so. In addition, Nicoleen herself – the victim – was not called to give evidence in aggravation.
Had either of these things been done, then the sentence could well have been harsher. Had the case been heard in a higher court – such as the regional court – the outcome could have been more serious for Swart.
If the scourge of GBV is to be reduced, then our cops and prosecutors need to up their game.