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Domestic Violence




Use this process only as a guideline. Each process may change based on circumstance.

Request for Domestic violence assistance here


Domestic Violence
  • Required Documents –

    • Certified Copy of Identity Documents.

    • Respondents Details.

  • Procedure

    • The process are as follows -

      • Applicant is to approach the district court domestic violence department.

    • On affidavit, the applicant will state the nature, extent and severity of the incident that the respondent has caused him/her. All relevant details such as exact dates, actual words spoken and violent conduct to the applicant must be documented.

    • Domestic violence interdicts may only be brought by family members i.e. mother, father, brother, sister and spouses.

    • The magistrate will grant an order against the respondent intending to prevent further violence, failing which criminal prosecution may take place.

    • Respondents have the opportunity to respond to the allegations before a final order is granted.

  • What is domestic violence?

    • It is a pattern of abusive behaviour in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner.
      It is regarded as a serious social evil and South Africa is one of the countries with high increases of domestic violence.
      The Domestic Violence Act, 1998 was enacted with the main purpose to afford the victims of domestic violence maximum protection from domestic abuse that the law can provide.
      The Act further introduced measures which seek to ensure that relevant organs of state that the State is committed to the elimination of domestic violence.

  • Statistics

    • The World Health Organization found that 60,000 women and children are victims of domestic violence.
      South Africa is said to have the highest statistics of gender-based violence.
      On 22 April 2020 Police Minister Bheki Cele said:
      The national picture reflects a decrease by 69,4% from 9990 cases between 29 March and 22 April to 3061 since the lockdown until April 2020, meaning a difference of 6929.”
      Some information has been misleading.
      An incorrect statement by Cele and others that the national gender-based violence hotline received 8,000 calls during a period in lockdown was widely reported.
      This was in fact all the calls received throughout 2019. While call volumes to the hotline have increased, there’s no official,
      publicly available analysis of the calls, so its hard to say how many were for domestic violence (Published by: Daily Maverick).


  • Types of abuse

    • - Physical abuse
      - Sexual abuse
      - Emotional abuse
      - Economic abuse
      - Psychological abuse
      - Threat
      - Harassment
      - Damage to property
      - Stalking
      - Entering the complainant’s residents without consent
      - And any other controlling or abusive behaviour towards the complainant.


  • Where can the applicant apply for a protection order?

    • The applicant can apply for a protection order at the domestic violence section of his/her nearest magistrate’s court,
      or the magistrate court that is closest to where the person is abusing the applicant lives or works.


  • The Constitution and domestic violence

    • In terms of section 12(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996,
      everyone has the right to freedom and security of the person,
      which includes the right to be free from all forms of violence from either public or private sources,
      In S v Boloyi 2000 (1) BCLR 86 ( CC), 2000 (2) SA 425 (CC), the Constitutional Court pointed and that the specific inclusion of private sources emphasises that serious threats to personal security arise from those sources.
      Sachs J indicated that, read with section 7(2) of the Constitution, section 12(1) obliges the state to protect everyone’s right to be free from violence, including domestic violence.

      The constitutional right is bodily and psychological integrity, the right to dignity, the right not to be tortured in any way,
      and the right not to be treated or punished in a cruel inhuman or degrading way also oblige the state to deal with domestic violence.


  • Application Process

    • Applicant can apply at the magistrate court, where the clerk of the court will help him/her with the application process.
      The clerk of the court will then submit the application form.


  • Against whom may an applicant seek a protection order?

    • - A person whom you are married, whether by civil or customary rites
      - Your partner who lives or has lived together with you, even though you were not married to each other or are not able to be married to each other
      - The other parent of your child or persons who share parental responsibility with you by blood ties, marriage, or adoption
      - A person with whom you shared engagement, customary or dating relationship, including an actual or perceived romantic, intimate, or sexual relationship of any duration
      - A person with whom you share or have recently shared the same residence.


  • The court proceedings

    • Proceedings under the Domestic Violence Act are conducted in camara.
      The only people who may be present in court are the parties, their legal representatives,
      someone who brings on application on the complaint’s behalf, witnesses, officers of the court, and not more than three persons each to provide support to the complainant and respondent.

      The court may exclude anyone from attending part of the proceeding and may exercise any other power to hear proceedings behind closed doors.
      The Act prohibits the publication of any information which may, directly or indirectly, reveal the identity of any party to the proceedings.
      In the interest of justice, the court may further direct that any other information relating to the proceedings may not be published.
      Such a direction does not apply to the publication of a bona fide law report which does not mention the names or reveals the identities of the parties or witnesses.
      Contravention of the prohibition on publication is a crime which is punishable with a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or both the fines and imprisonment.



  • Legal representation and cost

    • Any party to proceedings under the Act may have legal representation.
      If the complainant is unrepresented, the clerk of the court must inform him/her of the relief
      available in terms of the Act and the right to lodge a criminal complaint against the respondent if a crime has been committed.

      Each party bears his or her own cost unless he/she acted frivolously, vexatious or unreasonably.
      In the latter event a cost may be made against that party.


  • The protection orders

    • (i) Interim protection order
      The court may not make an immediate protection order, an interim protection order is made if the court is satisfied that there is prima facie evidence.
      The court must also issue a warrant of arrest when issuing the interim order.
      A court date is also set for both the applicant and the respondent to appear before the court.

      (ii) Final protection order.
      After proper service of the interim protection order has been affected and the respondent fails to appear on the date specified the court must confirm the order.
      If the respondent does appear and appose, the court must hear the matter.
      If the court finds on a balance of probabilities that the respondent has committed or is committing an act of domestic violence, it must issue a final protection order.



  • Varying and setting aside a protection order.

    • A protection order can be varied or set aside upon good cause being shown.
      However, if the complainant makes the application for variation or rescission,
      the court must be satisfied that the application is being made freely and voluntarily.
      Further, as upper guardian of all minors, the High Court may set aside a protection order if the best interest of a child demand this.