Seaward thought news of fa­tal punch in park­ing lot was a bad joke

The Witness - - FRONT PAGE - IN­GRID OELLERMANN

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.

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