Domestic violence is rife in South Africa. It occurs in many other countries, too. We are familiar with the laws and their application. If you are a victim of domestic violence, it is best to do something about it, rather than merely hoping it will ‘go away’.
In fact, domestic violence, if not opposed early on, often gets much worse; an offender who is getting away with breaking the law, is quite likely to abuse more people, more often. Do not allow the cycle of abuse to continue. Get help as soon as possible.
The Domestic Violence Act enables a person who is the victim of domestic violence to obtain a court order (a ‘Protection Order’) against another person or persons, to prevent the abuser from continuing with the abusive behaviour.
In case of breach by the offender:
If an order is granted and the abuser repeats the behaviour that is prohibited by the protection order, the victim may report the breach of the protection order to the police, who are required immediately to investigate the incident. If they find that there is the danger of further harm, they are required immediately to arrest the offender and to take him or her to the court on the first available date.
Breach, but no danger of further harm
If they find that there is evidence of a breach, but no danger of further harm, the police must warn the offender to attend court to face a charge of contravening the court order.
Domestic violence takes many forms. The Domestic Violence Act identifies, in its definitions section, the following different types of domestic violence –
Important note: These are the bare definitions. There is far more information in the Act itself, explaining what these terms actually mean. You need as much information as you can get, especially if you intend to make an application on your own, without a lawyer.
Who can apply for a ‘Protection Order’?
As the title of the Act suggests, this law is intended for application in cases of ‘domestic’ violence. It is therefore required that, in order to make use of this form of protection, there must be, or have been a ‘domestic relationship’ between the applicant for the order and the abuser.
Definitions of ‘Domestic Relationship’:
Question: What if the person bothering you is not and never has been, in a ‘domestic relationship’ with you?
Answer: You may still be able to obtain an order, in terms of the Prevention of Harassment Act
The application process in brief:
Protection orders are granted by magistrates, at any Magistrates Court; it is best to go to the court in the area where you live.
The application is made by the filling in of a form, which the clerk of the Domestic Violence Court will place before a Magistrate, together with you. If he or she thinks you have made out a case, an order will be granted. If not, it is possible that the court will issue an order, requiring you and the abuser to appear before the court on a given date.
If an order is granted it must be served on the Respondent (the abuser) or it will not be effective. A copy of the application must accompany that order.
The abuser, once he or she has been served with the order, must appear in court on the date that appears in the order, if he or she wants to oppose the granting of a ‘final order’. The applicant must also appear.
We can, and do, assist applicants or respondents with Domestic Violence orders. Call us for an appointment, urgently.