Marizka Coetzer
Journalist
3 minute read
10 Jun 2022
5:08 am

R20k fine ‘inappropriate’ for man found guilty of assaulting ex-wife

Marizka Coetzer

Nicoleen said the assault caught on camera was not the only attack she had to endure.

Screenshot from Twitter/Barry Bateman

Many South Africans are outraged by footage of a Pretoria man aggressively abusing his wife and walking away with a slap on the wrist.

Jaco Swart was this week convicted of assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm against his estranged wife, Nicoleen. The Pretoria North Regional Court handed Swart a R20 000 fine and a three-year prison sentence, suspended for five years.

Surveillance footage of Swart pushing, punching and kicking his wife at their business in 2018 has since gone viral. After the proceedings, Nicoleen said she was disappointed with the sentence, but pleased with the guilty verdict. She described the abuse by Swart as physically and emotionally draining.

“I don’t wear sunglasses or heavy makeup any more, it reminds me of a time I had to hide what I looked like,” she said. She still had flashbacks from the attacks.

“The first punch usually hurt the most and then I got numb. Only the next day I would feel pain over my whole body,” she said.

Nicoleen said the assault caught on camera was not the only attack she had to endure.

AfriForum’s private prosecution unit spokesperson Barry Bateman said the organisation was deeply disappointed the prosecutor did not do more to ensure the surveillance footage was submitted to the court record.

“We feel there was almost no appetite to pursue the matter because the prosecutor was happy to roll over at the first objection raised by the defence,” he said.

Bateman said the state paid lip service to gender-based violence and the manner in which the case was handled was a case in point.

“The sentence is shockingly inappropriate,” he said.

If the magistrate had seen the footage he would have had no choice but to send Swart to prison. Activist against women and child abuse Pixie Pink said the nonprofit Family Protection Association SA which assists victims of crime was outraged.

“Recent crime statistics released by government show, on average, nine women are killed by their partners or ex-partners every day in SA,” she said.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Jaco Swart gets lenient fine despite footage of brutal wife beating

“We beg the courts to hand down harsh sentences to all perpetrators. Women and children are extremely vulnerable.”

Director at the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children advocate Bernadine Bachar said the sentence was shockingly inappropriate and an affront to all survivors.

“The system has once again failed South African women. What this sentence will likely achieve is to discourage survivors from approaching our courts to protect them.

“The courts should be sending out a clear message that gender-based violence will not be tolerated. Instead, this sentence may embolden abusers further.”

The Democratic Alliance’s Bronwynn Engelbrecht said the fact that Swart proudly referred to himself as a hooligan indicated he was a weak type of person.

“The fact that he is a man that jumps around and boxes a vulnerable woman is the lowest one can descend. He acts like an animal. A real man should be a role model for his wife and society, someone who makes life a better place every day,” she said.

Law expert Dr Llewelyn Curlewis said the matter was heard in the district court, which meant it had limited jurisdiction and handed down three years maximum imprisonment or R100,000 fine.

“If the state wanted a more severe sentence they should have prosecuted from the regional court.”