Justice system downplays serious threats in sentencing – Action Society plays vital role in another missing docket case

“Today proved that the justice system seems not to realise the seriousness of threats made in incidents of gender-based violence,” said Kaylynn Palm, Action Centre Coordinator of Action Society. “A man walked out of court a free man after threatening, intimidating and abusing his girlfriend, as well as violating a protection order.

 

“Action Society is very disappointed that he is not in detention after paying a small fine of R3 000.”

 

The abusive man appeared in the Khayelitsha Magistrates Court today on an intimidation charge, where he was found guilty of violating a protection order in place since 2020. He has been in custody since 11 July 2022 following his arrest.

 

The court fined him R6 000 or 12 months imprisonment, of which the court suspended R3 000 or six months imprisonment for five years. He is unfit to possess a firearm.

 

However, yesterday, the Blue Downs Magistrates Court postponed an assault case between the same two parties until 25 August. This after the docket went missing and was later found because of Action Society’s enquiries. The woman was severely beaten in May after she refused to have intercourse with him.

 

“I remember his fist punch on my face,” she told Action Society. “He continued punching me. I screamed, and the tenants came out and tried to stop him, but he did not listen. Instead, he pushed me up the stairs to our room. He locked us inside, where he continued beating me.

 

“I was begging him to stop and even apologised. However, after that, he still dared to force sex. I went to the police station to report the matter. He was arrested and cried big crocodile tears asking me to stop the police from arresting him,” she said.

 

He was released on a warning in this matter but was arrested again in July for the intimidation case.

 

Palm said the magistrate noted the community’s demands requesting a harsh sentence but explained in detail that she must look at the rule of law in this matter.

 

“She said it’s the suspect’s first offence without prior convictions. She noted that the suspect pleaded guilty and did not waste the court’s time. In addition, he takes care of two dependants, and his employer will take him back when he is out.”

 

The emotional woman said she was expecting a harsher sentence today.

 

“The justice system has failed me. They just buried me alive. I know that man; he is coming back for me. When I heard that he was only getting a fine, I felt the judge was giving my life to him. So I am disappointed and afraid,” she said.

 

Action Society cannot help but notice the similarities between this case and that of Siphokazi Booi. Booi’s boyfriend received bail after assaulting her but brutally killed her a month later in September last year.

 

“Action Society and the supporters and family of the victim expected a harsher sentence based on the nature of the threats,” said Palm. “He threatened to take her life, he threatened to shoot her and her family members, yet he gets to go back into society,” she said.

 

Action Society will be in court again next week to monitor the case.

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