Young man convicted of “brutal attack” on frail 80-year-old woman

The conviction of a young man for attacking an elderly woman is one of the clearest demonstrations yet of how cooperation between the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit can result in justice. Yesterday, the Booysen’s Magistrates Court found Dylan Ferreira guilty of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm for his “brutal” and “unhinged” attack against Lucille Oosthuysen.

The 80-year-old and her husband, Will, are represented by the Private Prosecution Unit, which assisted the couple in preparing to testify and remained by their side throughout the difficult trial. The unit provided audio-visual equipment to the NPA, enabling the prosecutor to present video evidence in court. The surveillance footage showing Ferreira’s attack on the frail woman was crucial to his conviction.

The assault took place on 5 August 2023 in Mayfield, South of Johannesburg. There was a dispute over a set of spare keys for a property Ferreira and his fiancé Kay-Leigh Pelser were renting from the Oosthuysen couple. The argument led to Ferreira violently shoving Oosthuysen to the floor. In court, he pleaded that he acted in self-defence.

Ferreira, a sales executive at a BMW dealership in Johannesburg, had a very different demeanour when Magistrate Nicola Olivier delivered her scathing judgment. “It is in no uncertain terms clear to the court that the attack on the complainant was unprovoked,” said Olivier.

“The attack on the complainant was brutal and upsetting to say the least. The complainant, being 79-years-old at the time, a frail, elderly woman standing in a still position and being pushed off balance by a 28-year-old male, was left helpless on the pavement. The accused’s behaviour was unhinged and condemning. His defence is over the top and I find it hard connecting the defence to the offence that he has committed.

“I want you to understand one thing, and this is where I pause to mention the following.   Evidence never lies, but people do,” concluded Olivier.

Adv. Gerrie Nel, head of the unit, is satisfied with the court’s decision. “A bully got his just desserts. This is a prime example of what is achievable through cooperation between the National Prosecuting Authority and our office. We got involved because of another failure of a victim by the NPA, but the subsequent appointment of a brilliant young prosecutor and the involvement of a very strong and competent magistrate, and our involvement ensured that justice was done. Our thanks to prosecutor Lungile Mazibane and our respects to Magistrate Nicola Olivier. We will remain involved through the sentencing process,” said Nel.

The court postponed the matter to 5 June 2024 for sentencing.

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