I AM an LlM student at NMMU. I have a huge interest in the case mentioned in the article, "Back to jail for dog-row neighbour” (October 10), as my research is in the interest of restorative justice and the case was likely to have some elements of restorative justice.
Threading carefully without dealing with the merits of the case, in the trial it transpired that the defendant was residing 500m away from the complainant. Surely there was an oversight in this article about these facts.
What is at issue is not what was written in the article but what was not written. The defendant was charged with attempted murder, he entered a plea of not guilty to attempted murder and noted that if the charge was altered to a lesser one of assault he might plead guilty.
Later he was found guilty on a lesser charge of assault with intent to grievous bodily harm.
On the facts provided at the trial and mitigation factors presented by the defendant, he was married, had a two-month-old baby, was working, had no previous convictions, and he had arranged a meeting with the victim and his family to apologise. In my opinion the court should have imposed a non-custodial sentence and this was echoed by the probation officer as well.
A prison term would not serve a purpose in this case. This is a clear reluctance by our courts to apply restorative justice, rather hanging on to an antagonist and protagonist approach of the traditional adversarial system.