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#HimOrMe: Trial continues for mother of two accused of killing abuser

- Lee-Anne Bruce

CALS recently appeared in the Palm Ridge Magistrates Court defending a woman accused of killing her abusive partner during an incident of domestic violence

Over the last two weeks, CALS has appeared in the Palm Ridge Magistrates Court representing a woman answering charges related to the death of her abusive partner. On 23 August, after awaiting trial in custody for over two years following a number of unfortunate delays, trial finally commenced. Our client pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder or alternatively culpable homicide and the state called its first two witnesses, a police officer and a pathologist. 

Arguing our case in court are advocates James Grant and Nthabiseng Sepanya-Mogale. During cross-examination of the state's first witness, advocate Grant was able to uncover inconsistencies between his written and oral evidence around when he read our client her rights. His evidence was subsequently ruled inadmissible by the presiding magistrate. After the pathologist's testimony, the matter was postponed to 30 August when the state called its final witness, a neighbour who was also able to testify to a history of abuse. 

From 30 August to 1 September, the defence commenced. The first witness called was a family member of our client who was able to testify in detail about her abusive relationship with the deceased. He related to the court a number of incidents including one in which he went to assist our client when the deceased locked her in a room and beat her so severely she suffered a miscarriage. We then called our client to the stand and she commenced her evidence-in-chief, providing a comprehensive account over the next two days of her relationship with the deceased, his pattern of abuse and his death during another incident of domestic violence in which he again locked her in a room and sexually assaulted her. 

The matter was then postponed to 6 October for our client's cross-examination. The final witness we intend to call thereafter is an expert on psychological aspects of trauma and domestic violence. We strongly believe that our courts need to take this phenomenon into account, to engage with how patterns of abuse may influence a person's response to threats. 

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