She wakes up with a start every morning at three, drenched in sweat, her pulse racing. Every time it’s the same nightmare: fearing for her life she flees her ex,
But for Annetjie Smit (53) it’s not just a dream and she still bears the scars of the day in August 2006 when her then husband, Jaco Pretorius, assaulted her and left her for dead.
“He stood at the front door, booze in hand,” she says, recalling the day her life changed. “I still thought I wouldn’t get a beating because I’d signed a deal worth thousands of rand. I was wrong.” Pretorius put his glass down and all hell broke loose. She has no recollection of what happened next.
Annetjie’s jaw was fractured in five places. Her nose was broken and her right eye dangled outside the socket. Her head was swollen and she suffered brain damage.
Pretorius (43), a mine foreman and also from Lydenburg, left her for dead. He locked the doors and raced off in her BMW, taking her cellphone with him.
Concerned colleagues alerted her children when she didn’t arrive at work for two days. With police they broke down the doors to the house and found Annetjie unconscious on the bed.
After months in intensive care and several operations, Annetjie had to pick up the pieces of her life, starting from scratch.
Pretorius was found guilty of attempted murder last year and received a five-year suspended sentence, provided he’s not found guilty of a violent crime within this time. He also had to do 18 months corrective supervision and community service. Annetjie says she’d asked the Regional Court magistrate not to send him to prison. The magistrate said he thought Pretorius belonged in prison but said he took cognisance of her request, she adds.
Now Annetjie is suing Pretorius for R4,7 million.
When Pretorius appeared in court on assault charges Annetjie felt it would be to her disadvantage if he went to jail. She’d already decided to sue him for damages.
“He couldn’t care for me while he was in prison. Now he will have to pay for the rest of his life,” she says wiping away tears.
She also has a new goal. She still lives in Lydenburg and now supports other abused women in the town. Women often contact her and she helps them to take out protection orders, accompanying them to the court and police station.