Protection order in South Africa

A protection order is a court order granted by a Magistrate’s Court prohibiting the perpetrator from engaging in or attempting to engage in harassment or enlisting the help of another to do so. A protection order may contain a list of specific acts which the perpetrator may not commit.

Although it is not specified on how serious the conduct must be in order to apply for a protection order, the general rule in South African courts is that they will not entertain minor matters. A court will only issue a protection order if the perpetrator’s behaviour is unreasonable or if there is a risk that the complainant/victim may be harmed or subject to abuse of any kind in the future should the court refuse to grant such an order.

Any person who is the victim of harassment may approach the court for a protection order. You may also apply for a court order on behalf of another person if you have a material interest in the well-being of that person.

An interim protection order will be granted in order to keep the victim safe until the court date. At the court appearance, the perpetrator will be given an opportunity to state their case and the court will then either make the interim order a final order (if the court is satisfied that there exist sufficient reasons to grant a final order) or will dismiss the application and the interim order will then fall away.

A protection order can be granted against any person who engages themselves with harassment, even if the perpetrator is a child who can understand and appreciate the consequences of his/her actions. As long as the child is capable of appreciating the consequences and who knew or ought to know that the conduct was harmful.
People are of the opinion that if you are not involved in a domestic relationship with the perpetrator that you are unable to get a protection order. This position has changed and you are able to get a protection order against a perpetrator even although you are not in a domestic relationship with that person.

In the case where you do not know the identity of the person harassing you, you are still able to apply for a protection order. If the court is convinced that you are being harassed, they may issue a directive directing the SAPS to investigate the matter and identify the perpetrator. If the perpetrator is harassing you by using electronic communications, the court may direct the electronic communications service provider concerned to provide details of the perpetrator.

If you already have a protection order in place and you are still harassed by the perpetrator, you can hand the warrant of arrest together with an affidavit to any SAPS member. If it appears that you are suffering any harm due to such a breach, the SAPS must immediately arrest the perpetrator.

SDF Attorneys have years of experience with protection orders and would be happy to assist either a victim or a perpretrator in a domestic violence application.