Court sends stalker to psychiatric hospital

Date: 12 Jun 2007
A Hartebeespoort woman, who was previously warned she would be sent to jail if she did not stop stalking a former friend, has again been admitted to a psychiatric hospital. A Pretoria High Court judge first granted an interdict in 2005 preventing Tracey-Lee Vermaak from contacting or stalking her former friend, Shelly Margaret van der Merwe. But Van der Merwe returned to court on several subsequent occasions when Vermaak’s odd behaviour resumed. They were back in court last week when Van der Merwe sought a court order to have Vermaak jailed for being in contempt of previous court orders, but the application was delayed after Vermaak was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for more treatment. Her husband, Anthony, said in court papers he had not realized the extent of his wife’s substance-abuse problem or her anti social behaviour until he received notice of Van der Merwe’s latest application. He said his wife’s attorneys needed time to get experts to explain her compulsive behaviour and suggest a treatment programme that would benefit her and Van der Merwe, as imprisonment would only aggravate the situation. Van der Merwe initially went to court after what started off as a friendship ended with her receiving up to 15 silent calls and numerous threatening SMS’s a day. By Ilse de Lange The Citizen 12/06/07