The first stabs came from behind
A SENIOR clerk at the Sol Plaatje Traffic Department (SPTD) was yesterday sentenced in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court after being found guilty of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm following an incident where she stabbed a colleague several times with a knife.
Mary Chiwa, 43, initially pleaded not guilty to the charge of assault GBH, following the incident at her place of employment where she stabbed a female colleague several times, but her legal representative yesterday handed in a guilty plea.
Chiwa was sentenced to a fine of R20 000 or two years’ imprisonment, with half of the sentence (R10 000 or one year imprisonment) suspended for five years.
In the plea explanation, Chiwa explained that on April 11 this year she was at work at the SPTD’s offices in Pahakamila Mabija Road, Kimberley, when the incident occurred.
Chiwa said that she had entered the kitchen to wash a knife she was going to use to butter bread, when the complainant entered the room and they had an argument. She stated that her colleague then pushed her on the forehead, saying that they were “going to moer (hit) each other”, before walking away.
Chiwa admitted that she then stabbed the complainant from behind – behind the ear and in the shoulder. The complainant then turned around and Chiwa continued to stab her – once in the forehead and also in the chest. The complainant then grabbed the knife and a scuffle ensued, before another colleague came to “break up the fight”.
She further admitted that she stabbed the complainant with the intent to do grievous bodily harm and that the victim sustained serious injuries as a result. She said that she knew her actions were wrong and punishable by law.
The State accepted the guilty plea and added that Chiwa had no previous convictions.
While Chiwa’s legal representative presented her personal circumstances, he explained that Chiwa started working at the SPTD in 2004 as a cashier and then “worked her way up” to the position of senior clerk, a position she was still currently holding.
While he conceded that his client was guilty of a serious offence, he asked the court for a sentence that would give his client the opportunity to rehabilitate outside prison.
The State, while presenting aggravating factors, said that it was “shocking” that Chiwa’s first stabs came from behind, when the victim was defenceless and unaware.
The State added that the victim had not only sustained physical injuries but also psychological and emotional trauma following the ordeal, and she was now working in a state of fear at her place of employment, as Chiwa was also still working there.
The State asked for a fine and imprisonment as a sentence.
While handing down the sentence, Magistrate Lance Roach told Chiwa that she had been found guilty of an offence that bordered on attempted murder and that the State could have charged her as such, had the injuries sustained by the victim been life threatening.
Roach added that the fact that she had not initially “played open cards with the court” (as she had at first pleaded not guilty) would stand as aggravating circumstances.
Roach found that Chiwa was “not a candidate for imprisonment” and proceeded to sentence her to a fine of R20 000 or two years’ imprisonment, with half of the sentence (R10 000 or one year imprisonment) suspended for five years on the condition that she was not found guilty of a similar offence during this time.
Chiwa was also declared unfit to possess a firearm.