MAVERICK CITIZEN

Southern Kings rugby player in court after alleged assault of pregnant woman

By Vincent Cruywagen 5 January 2021

Advocate Venice Burgins, left, representing Lucinda Wiliams, centre, mother of Rhimondy Apollis, and activist Verona Oktober outside the Atlantis Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 5 January for the assault case against Southern Kings rugby player Tiaan Swanepoel. (Photo: Vincent Cruywagen)

Tiaan Swanepoel, a Southern Kings rugby player accused of assaulting a pregnant woman, claims to have an alibi.

Tiaan Swanepoel, a Southern Kings rugby player, has made a brief appearance in the Atlantis Magistrates’ Court where he is facing charges of assaulting a pregnant woman.

Tiaan Swanepoel, facing charges of crimen injuria and common assault, appeared briefly in the Atlantis Magistrates’ Court, West Coast, yesterday. (Photo: Vincent Cruywagen)

The woman, Rhimondy Apollis, who was 37 weeks pregnant at the time of the alleged assault, was not in court on Tuesday as she was recovering after giving birth to a baby girl on 28 December.

Swanepoel and his co-accused, Anel Pienaar, chose to conduct their own defence and while not asked to enter a plea, indicated that they denied the charges.  

Swanepoel faces charges of crimen injuria and common assault related to an incident on 13 December 2020 where he allegedly hurled racial slurs and assaulted Apollis in the parking lot opposite Spar Tops in Melkbosstrand. Pienaar faces charges of reckless and negligent driving. She is accused of reversing a car with no number plates into the parked car of Apollis. 

Both claim to have alibis for the day in question.

Apollis’s mother, Lucinda Williams, was in court on Tuesday. Advocate Venice Burgins, acting as an observer, informed the court that Apollis had given birth and for this reason could not attend the proceedings.

Apollis and her mother, who was also allegedly assaulted and had racial slurs hurled at her, are pinning their hopes on the SAPS to investigate the matter, gather all the available CCTV footage from nearby businesses and interview any people who may have witnessed the incident.

According to Apollis, a second person, driving a bakkie, allegedly tried to run over her mother. Police are looking for this suspect.

After the brief court proceedings, Burgins said: “It is clear identity is (key) because both accused before court denied their involvement. Apollis’s mother was in court and adamant that both the accused were indeed at the scene on Sunday, 13 December 2020.

“The unfortunate reality is that the onus now shifts back to the complainants to identify them. SAPS will have an identification parade as discussed with the station commander at Melkbosstrand SAPS.”

Burgins said it was important that SAPS carried out the investigation meticulously. She said the police should not fail Appolis and Williams, pointing out that it was due to failed investigations that victims of abuse preferred not to report cases to the SAPS.

“If we look at the case in question, the matter occurred on Sunday, 13 December 2020. The complainants received hostility at SAPS Melkbosstrand and (when they approached) Atlantis SAPS (they were denied assistance) and referred it back to Melkbosstrand.

“Only upon consultation with the station commander at Melkbosstrand SAPS on Sunday, 20 December 2020 was a case opened,” Burgins said.

The victim’s mother, who looked worried after the court proceedings, said coming face to face with the accused in court was like reliving the events of Sunday, 13 December.

Verona Oktober from the Atlantis Action Group, which was supporting the two women, said the only option was to fight this case with the support of advocate Burgins inside the court.

Condemning the alleged attack on a pregnant woman, Oktober said: “How can a person attack a pregnant woman or any other woman, for that matter? Don’t women have a purpose in this life? Are we just there to be hurt or assaulted?”

Oktober intends drawing up a petition calling for harsh sentences for the accused if they are convicted.

Swanepoel avoided the media and was whisked away in a car shortly after the proceedings. The matter was postponed for further investigation. He and Pienaar are due back in court on Friday, 19 February. DM/MC

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