Durban - A part-time teacher has received a suspended sentence for the attempted murder of her husband, who is more than 20 years her junior.
Zaheera Bunting, 57, was sentenced on Monday by a Durban Regional Court magistrate, who described her relationship with 36-year-old Brent Smit as a “roller-coaster” ride.
Magistrate Anand Maharaj said Bunting’s emotions had got the better of her and he felt she had learnt her lesson.
“Human nature is difficult to categorise and only you can understand what you did on the day in question,” he said.
The magistrate found the Umbilo resident guilty on Friday, saying he found it difficult to accept Bunting’s defence that she had shot her husband in self-defence.
On July 4 she fired three shots at Smit with her .38 Special revolver as he was leaving her flat in Umbilo. The first shot missed him and the second and third shots hit his back and leg.
State prosecutor Kuveshni Pillay had argued that Bunting did not act in self-defence.
According to a Sunday Tribune report, Bunting had testified earlier that the argument with Smit was sparked over food.
She had testified to being ill and unable to cook and had described how Smit had yanked the braids from her head and dunked her head into a bucket of water before kneeing her in the face.
Bunting said she then went into her bedroom to get her cellphone from her handbag to call the police, but ended up picking up her gun instead.
She said she was not wearing her glasses and fired three shots in the general direction of a silhouette in her doorway.
However, Smit had testified that his wife, of 19 years, had sworn at and pushed him and he had responded by slapping her twice. Smit had said he was leaving the flat with a bag containing clothing when Bunting shot him.
During judgment and sentencing, Maharaj referred to witness Ricardo Singrum’s testimony, saying the former flat resident was a credible witness. He had corroborated Bunting’s version of the beating and had said that when he tried to intervene Smit swore at him.
“Ricardo seemed to suggest that you (Bunting) have a violent disposition,” Maharaj said to Bunting. “You shot at the complainant because he was leaving you. Emotions got the better of you.
“What is of concern to me is, despite your education qualification, you were prepared to use your firearm and shoot someone in the back,” he said on Monday.
The magistrate also said Smit was no saint. He said Bunting had said she had a protection order against Smit, which Smit denied.
He said Smit also suggested that there had been an earlier shooting, which he did not report.
“I accept as a matter of fact that he (Smit) did assault you. Ricardo said you shot (Smit) as he was leaving the flat. It appears to me that you knew what you were doing,” said Maharaj.
He found that her age, 57, intelligence and that she was a first offender were all mitigating factors in her favour.
He felt that a suspended sentence would act as a deterrent to her and sentenced her to three years’ imprisonment, suspended for five years.
She also has to pay Smit R3 000, by the end of this month, to cover the fees he still needs to pay the ambulance service for his treatment.
As a result of her conviction, she can no longer possess a firearm.