To enjoy the full Mail & Guardian online experience: please upgrade your browser
26 Nov 2009 22:00
How can you practically empower yourself, or the women and children you know, during this year’s 16 days of Activism? The Mail & Guardian‘s “HOW TO” guide will tackle a different area each day, including suing for maintenance, applying for a social grant and getting an interdict against an abusive partner.
The Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998 was introduced to afford victims of domestic violence the maximum protection the law can provide.
Any person who can be defined as a ‘complainant” in terms of the Act can approach the court for protection.
A complainant is defined as any person who has been in a domestic relationship with a respondent (the person committing the violence) and who is or has been subjected to an act of domestic violence, including any child in care of the complainant.
What is domestic violence?
According to the Act, ‘domestic violence” means
A protection order prohibits the person against whom the order is made from committing any acts of domestic violence or from getting any other person to commit such acts against you (the victim of the abuse).
Download the protection order here.
The protection order can also offer protection to other members of the family who are affected by the violence. It can also make provision for a peace officer to accompany you to collect your personal property and/or for the police to seize any arms or dangerous weapons that may be in the possession of the abuser.
What to do when applying for an order
It helps to write down as much information as possible regarding the violence you have experienced, whether weapons were used, what injuries you had and if you received medical treatment. It is essential that you have the addresses of the abuser or some idea of where he can be found. Take this information with you when go to apply for a protection order and refer to it when filling out the application form. This will ensure you do not leave out anything important.
To obtain the order you will need to go to the magistrate’s court in the area where you live or the area in which your abuser lives. You will need to fill out a form known as an ‘Application for Protection Order ’—a clerk of the court will be able to assist you with this.
You will then have to swear under oath to the correctness of the information.
The clerk of the court will take your application to the magistrate, who may then prepare a notice that the Sheriff of the court or a police officer will serve on the abusive party. This notice will act as a temporary protection order and both you and your abuser will have to appear in court at a later date for a hearing, where you will be required to make a case as to why the order should be made permanent.
Once you have a protection order in place, you will be able to have your abuser arrested should he disobey it. A breach of any of the conditions set out in the order could result in the offender either receiving a fine or being sentenced to a prison term—or both.
Persons such as teachers, counsellors and healthcare providers may apply for a protection order on your behalf, provided they have your written consent. This written consent, however, does not apply if the complainant is a minor, has a disability, is unconscious or is unable to provide such consent for any other reason.
Get some support
View more on our special report on 16 days of activism here.
Create Account | Lost Your Password?