Seaward thought news of fatal punch in parking lot was a bad joke
A MERRIVALE man, Grant Seaward (36), said yesterday he “thought it was a bad joke” when he heard that a man he’d punched in the parking lot at the upmarket St Ives restaurant had died.
Seaward has pleaded not guilty in the regional court to a charge of culpable homicide for allegedly negligently causing the death of Petrus Coetzer (65) at the St Ives festival on September 3, 2015.
The court heard that the deadly punch followed a string of insults exchanged by the two men during that afternoon. Seaward alleges however that Coetzer was the “aggressor” and that he had “tried to walk away” but said Coetzer repeatedly poked him in the chest and called him foul names.
Seaward told regional magistrate Bhekizitha Phoswa he never intended to hurt Coetzer but wanted to “knock him down” because he believed he was a danger to his (Seaward’s) wife at the time.
“The way he’d already hit me and the fact that he said he was going to f*** her (my wife) up … the way he was abusive to my wife, I thought in my heart of hearts he is going to klap her … his finger was very close to her face. His finger was pointing at her,” he said.
He said he aimed a “jab” at Coetzer and the blow struck him on his jaw.
“I said to him ‘now sleep’ and I walked away. I honestly thought he had just been knocked out,” he said.
Seaward said he went to get rolls, wors and drinks as friends were coming over for a braai.
When someone called him to say Coetzer was dead he thought it was a “bad joke”.
“I said so and put down the phone. She phoned back and said no, its true. I could not believe it … It took a long time to set in.”
Under cross examination by prosecutor Ricky van Wyk, Seaward said he “disagrees” with three state witnesses who testified that Coetzer was so drunk at the time that he could not walk and had asked for assistance getting to his car.
“That wasn’t my impression,” he said.
“I said to him ‘now sleep’ and I walked away. I honestly thought he had just been knocked out.”
ASKED why he didn’t tell his lawyer that he disagreed with the witnesses so they could be asked about it, Seaward said he “didn’t think it was worth bringing it up as I didn’t think it would be crucial to the case”.
Challenged about the fact that he’d referred to Coetzer in his evidence as an “old man”, Seaward said he knew Coetzer was older than he was but would have “guessed he was fiftyfiveish”.
“I was raised to respect my elders … for me to hit an older man is not something I would do lightly. I’m not like that,” he said.
He also repeatedly described Coetzer as “much bigger” than he was.
He said he did not use his “full force” to hit Coetzer because he only wanted to knock him down.
Seaward said that just before he punched Coetzer he had been verbally “attacking” his (Seaward’s) wife and threatening to “f*** her up”.
“I saw he had managed to shrug off the two security guards [who had been holding him off] … I thought he was a danger to her…
“He was walking towards us with intent,” he said.
Seaward denied he had been “cross” when he hit Coetzer and said if he had struck in “fit of rage” he would have hit him more than once.
During cross examination he admitted that he had also insulted Coetzer during the altercation.
“I told him to f*** off because he’s an old shoplifter.
“But I never stooped to the level that he did ... I never called his mother a whore or anything like that,” Seaward said.
Seaward, who is a supermarket manager, said he’d known Coetzer for 10 years and had a “problem” with him before when he allegedly caught him shoplifting.
When he walked into St Ives he saw Coetzer seated with friends.
“I could see him mouthing a profanity to the others.
“I shrugged my shoulders at him and he came across and started getting very vocal and rude.
“I said to him this was neither the time nor the place and I suggested to him we meet on Monday for coffee.”
He alleged Coetzer continued to “poke” him in the chest and insult him whenever they happened to bump into one another.
He added that he told his wife they should leave after Coetzer threatened to get his sons and his friends to “come f*** me up”.
It was when Seaward went back to find a friend they promised a lift to that he and Coetzer met again in the car park.