The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria cleared a woman of any wrongdoing after she allegedly drove over a security guard’s foot with her Range Rover during an altercation while she was looking for her ex-husband at his place of residence.
The charges were cleared after the magistrate’s court convicted Marlene van der Westhuizen for assault and trespassing.
She was given a suspended sentence, but she successfully appealed her conviction in the high court.
On the day of the incident, on June 30, 2019, Van der Westhuizen went to see her ex-husband at Centurion Golf Estate.
She did not have an access code but was let in by a guard who let her come in through the visitors’ entrance.
She drove to her husband’s house, but she could not gain access as his premises were locked. When she wanted to leave, an altercation ensued between her and an armed guard.
It’s not clear what happened, but the guard produced a firearm, and a shot went off, but nobody was injured.
A claim was made against Van der Westhuizen that when driving out of the premises, she drove over the foot/toes of the guard, Gaba Nkwena.
The guards also said Van der Westhuizen gained entry by tailgating another resident who had entered before her.
During the appeal, Van der Westhuizen denied having driven over anyone’s foot or toes. She also denied trespassing.
She said she drove through the visitors’ entrance after a guard opened the gate for her because she did not have an access code.
Upon reviewing the case, acting Judge L Barit said that Van der Westhuizen was treated unfairly by the magistrate.
It was later revealed that she neither trespassed nor assaulted anyone, as it was established that the gate was indeed opened at the visitors’ side for her to enter the estate.
It was also found that the guard’s foot did not seem injured, as there was no evidence to support those claims. The judge said one would expect some injuries if a heavy Land Rover had driven over one’s foot.
The judge also said it was shocking that the magistrate who convicted her added that Van der Westhuizen was unfit to possess a firearm even though she was never in possession of one that day; instead, she was a victim of the firearm incident.
Barit described the whole matter as ludicrous and said the trial against Van der Westhuizen was vitiated by irregularities as she also didn’t have a legal representative.
He said that the magistrate was mandated to assist Van der Westhuizen in determining what her rights were, but the magistrate never did and also failed to assist her in obtaining legal counsel.