What is domestic violence?

What is domestic violence?
All you need to know, from getting help to protection orders.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are experiencing domestic violence, you have to protect your self. The law is on your side.

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According to the Justice Department, this can be defined as
  • Abuse, be it physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or economic harassment.
  • Hurtful and controlling behaviour that causes harm to your health, safety and well-being.
  • Stalking – when someone makes unwanted and obsessive contact with you, such as following you around when you have told them not to.
  • Entering a person’s property without consent.
  • It can also be damage to property.

Eight steps to getting help

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  1. Locate the Magistrate’s Court that is nearest to where you live or work.
  2. Approach the court and ask to speak to a Clerk of the Court.
  3. The Clerk of the Court will assist you to complete the necessary forms to apply for a Protection Order.
  4. You will also be asked to fill out an affidavit. This is a document whereby you write down what abuse has happened to you and you make an oath (a promise) that what you have written is the truth.
  5. The Clerk of the Court will then take you to a Magistrate, who will decide whether to grant the order or not.

NOTE: You can apply for this interim Protection Order at any time of day.

What next?
  1. Once you have been granted the interim Protection Order, you need to take it to the Office of the Sheriff or to the police station closest to the abuser’s home or work address.
  2. At the police station, take down the name and/or badge number of the police officer to whom you hand the order.
  3. The police department will have to hand in a document called the ‘return of service’ to the Clerk of the Court. This is proof that the alleged abuser was given the order
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What is a protection order?

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  • A Protection Order is a document that will make it illegal for the alleged abuser to act in certain ways that could harm you.
  • An order can rule that the person is not to physically or verbally abuse you or your children.
  • It can also rule that the abuser may not get anyone else to harm you on his/her behalf.
  • It can state that the person is not allowed near your home or it might command that the person cannot enter a part of your home.
  • It might also prevent the person from coming near your workplace.
  • It could also make sure that any guns or weapons that the person owns are taken away.
  • The first order you would be given is called an interim order. This means that the order is temporary.
  • A date will be set down for you and the accused person to appear in court. At this time, the Magistrate will decide whether or not to grant a final order.

Who can apply for a protection order?

  • Anyone who believes they are a victim of this criminal abusive behaviour.
  • A child under 18 can apply for the order, even without the consent (agreement) of his/her parents.
  • Another person can also apply on a child’s behalf.
  • Furthermore, if, for some reason, a person cannot apply for him/herself – another person, who has an interest to see the abuse stopped, can apply on that person’s behalf.

What happens if the abuser disobeys the order?

  • If the abuser ignores the order, you may file a complaint at the police station.
  • The court will have previously given you a document called a Warrant of Arrest. This is done in case your abuser disobeys the law. You can now hand this in to the police.
  • This will allow them to arrest the abuser.
  • Once arrested, the abuser can face criminal charges and be tried in a Criminal Court for breaching the Protection Order.


  • You may, at any time, make an application to have the order set aside (removed).
  • However, it is at the discretion (the choice) of the Magistrate as to whether or not to set aside the order.
  • If they set it aside, this will mean that the Protection Order will be declared null and void – there will be no legal ruling against this person.
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Legal&Tax against abuse

You are not alone. If you need further legal advice and legal assistance, contact us on 0860 587 587. Our experts will be your companions in helping you get the help and support you need. 

Along with legal assistance, your emotional healing after this painful experience is also important. As such, Legal&Tax also offers Trauma Assist, whereby you can speak to a qualified trauma counsellor or get emergency private ambulance response should you need one.

Legal&Tax is proud to be a partner with People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA)

Get legal protection with Legal&Tax 

Call 0860 587 587 or email info@legalandtax.co.za


South African Police Service (SAPS) 10111
People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) +27 (11) 642 4345 
South African Human Rights Commission +27 (11) 484 8300 
LIFELINE +27 (11) 728 1347 / 0861 322 322 
Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) +27 (11) 403 7182 
Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) +27 (12) 320 0431 
Stop Women Abuse 0800 150 150 Childline +27 (11) 938 8745 
FAMSA National +27 (11) 833 205

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