Minister sits in on Cape Town race case

2014-12-12 20:59
Mcebisi Skwatsha

Mcebisi Skwatsha

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Cape Town - Rural Development Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha sat in on Friday on the court case of a man who called a domestic worker a "kaffir".

Sitting in the back of a packed courtroom in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court, he seemed pleased with the arguments raised for sentencing 36-year-old Andre van Deventer.

Van Deventer was convicted last month of assault and crimen injuria, after an argument with 50-year-old Gloria Kente last year.

"This case is in court today because of me. I actually heard about it and I went looking for her in the informal settlements... I took her to a lawyer," Skwatsha told Sapa outside the courtroom.

Prosecutor Andy Hess suggested to magistrate Alta le Roux that community service be imposed, with a possible placement in the ANC Women's League.

Hess said this would be a way for Van Deventer to learn to get along with women and black people.

While the court was sitting, Skwatsha made loud remarks about how this would do Van Deventer well, attracting stares from a policewoman nearby.

Skwatsha, who is an ANC MP, said outside court that sentences were not about punishment, but about reforming a person.

"Having followed this case from the beginning, I have realised that this gentleman is actually living in the old South Africa," he said.

He was asked how Van Deventer would benefit from community service.

"[He will find out] that black people are human beings like him, you know. That there is a lot of good in black people like there is a lot of good in white people."

Van Deventer was found guilty of assaulting Kente and of spitting in her face at the Table View home he shared with his then girlfriend Mariechin Pienaar last year.

Kente previously told the court he grabbed her pyjamas, verbally assaulted her and spat in her face.

He admitted to the crimen injuria charge, but denied assaulting her.

He said on Friday that he had a problem with aggression, particularly towards women, but did not think he was a racist.

Testifying in mitigation of sentence, Van Deventer said he had written a letter of apology to Kente and had apologised on national television.

His work as a salesman had suffered because of his numerous court appearances and the way he was portrayed in the media.

"I have been attacked from all sides because of this case and it has had a huge impact on my life."

Hess said an appropriate sentence would be house arrest, community service and a prohibition on using alcohol or any drugs.

Correctional supervision

The recommended sentence was in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Act, which offered correctional supervision after a correctional officer had placed a report before the court.

The supervision could not exceed three years.

She also offered an alternative option of periodical imprisonment, which would see him working in the week and spending the weekend at Pollsmoor Prison.

The case was postponed until 28 January to allow for the completion of the report and possible sentencing.

Le Roux mentioned the possibility of community service performed at a shelter for abused women.

Outside the courtroom, Van Deventer told Kente that he planned to apologise to her in person at his next appearance.

Kente said that was acceptable.


Read more on:    mcebisi skwatsha  |  cape town  |  racism  |  crime

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