Battered woman’s court bombshell

Hendrick Mphande

THERE were gasps of shock and disbelief in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court yesterday when a woman who was viciously assaulted, allegedly by her boyfriend, Brent Cunningham, asked the state to withdraw the charges against him.

The dramatic about-turn comes amid calls from the public for Cunningham to finally be put behind bars after two previous run-ins with the law.

He was previously acquitted of murder after he claimed self-defence, and received a two-year suspended sentence for assaulting his father.

Cunningham, 21, allegedly beat Shireen Ballan, 36, so severely on December 27 that she was admitted to hospital.

A picture of Ballan’s cut and bloodied face circulating on social media elicited a range of responses, from support for her to disgust at Cunningham’s alleged behaviour.

Yesterday, there was another outpouring – this time of shock and disappointment that Ballan wanted to withdraw the charges.

“This is outrageous. Why was the charge laid in the first place,” one lawyer was heard saying to another in the court passage after Cunningham’s appearance yesterday.

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