The Jaco Swart Decision: An Injustice That Must Be Appealed, for the Fight Against GBV

On the 7th of June 2022, Jaco Swart was convicted of assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm against his estranged wife, Nicoleen. Click here to access the video.

The Pretoria North Regional Court sentenced Swart to a R20 000 fine, as well as a three-year prison sentence, suspended for a period of five years. This sentence is an insult to the millions of South African women who have experienced gender-based violence or live in fear, in our country.

Swart pleaded guilty to the two counts, which was clearly captured in CCTV surveillance footage. In the CCTV footage, there is clear evidence of Swart pushing, punching and kicking his wife at their business premises in 2018. It is further alleged that other abuse against his wife took place in front of the couple’s children.

The NPA’s prosecutor had meekly applied to have the surveillance footage admitted, to assist in the sentencing of the convicted Jaco Swart. Regrettably, the Court disallowed the presentation of the footage after the defence questioned its authenticity.

Allegedly and according to reports, the prosecutor failed to challenge the defence in this regard. The prosecutor failed to call the complainant to testify, as well as a video expert witness (both of whom were available and willing to testify in aggravation of sentence). If this is true, it points to a case of professional negligence on the part of the prosecutor, at best.

ActionSA will be writing to the Director of Public Prosecutions for the Gauteng: Division: Pretoria, Adv. S. Mzinyathi, to request that the NPA urgently appeals the inadequate sentence in this case and calls for a thorough investigation into the prosecutor’s conduct. Should Adv. Mzinyathi reject our request we will escalate the matter to the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shamila Batohi. If this does not result in an appeal being undertaken, we will proceed to our courts or take all other measures available to us.

ActionSA will not idly stand by in this case and will never back down for as long as the scourge of gender-based violence exists in South Africa. If the fight against gender-based violence is going to be more than rhetoric, there must be a collective rejection of this kind of absurd sentence in response to such violence and brutality.

According to the crime statistics for the period October to December 2021, 902 women were murdered, with 232 of these murders directly linked to domestic violence. During the same period, 11 315 rape cases were reported, which translates to 123 cases a day.

The situation is exacerbated with the  Minister of Police having publicly stated on 3 June 2022, that January, February and March were especially brutal for women and children in South Africa. Murder, attempted murder and assault GBH of women, all recorded double-digit increases. Murder and assault GBH of children under the age of 17 also recorded sharp increases.

The first three months of 2022 have been darkened by more murders, more sexual violence and more assaults in comparison to the same period in 2021. Murder has increased by 22,2% in comparison to the same period last year, and sexual offences have recorded a 13.7% increase.

There is a war in South Africa against the women and children of our country. ActionSA refuses to stand back. Our focus is to fix South Africa, so that our country is a place where women and children are safe, and do not live in fear of violence.

ActionSA demands that justice be done, and not paid mere lip service.