Domestic Violence - Where to Get Help
A victim of domestic violence (DV) can approach their local magistrate’s court and request assistance in applying for a protection order.
A protection order is a written order that is issued by the magistrate’s or a family court to stop any person from committing any act of DV against another person with whom they have a domestic relationship.
People who can apply for a protection order include anyone who is or has been abused, a minor (who may lodge an application unassisted) and any person who has an interest in the life of the complainant. The following people can apply with the written consent of the complainant (unless the complainant is a minor, mentally disabled, unconscious or if the court is satisfied that he or she is unable to give the required consent): a counsellor, health worker, police officer, social worker, and teacher.
The Clerk of the Court will assist the victim (the applicant) to complete the necessary forms and to make an affidavit and will take the victim before a magistrate who will determine whether or not to grant the order.
If the respondent (the person against whom the order has been granted) breaches the protection order, by eg, repeating physical or verbal abuse, the victim may file a complaint at the police station and hand the warrant of arrest to the police who will then arrest the respondent, when the circumstances permit.
Once arrested, the respondent will face criminal charges and be tried in a criminal court for breaking the protection order.
Once the respondent has been arrested for breaking the protection order, the applicant may not decide to withdraw the charges. Only the Senior Public Prosecutor may do so.
In emergencies, the service, that is free, is available 24 hours a day.
The order is valid until the victim cancels it and is valid throughout South Africa.
Victims of gender-based violence should contact the GBV Command Centre for support:
• Toll-free number 0800 428 428
• Skype address - Helpme GBV (deaf community)
• SMS - “help” to 31531
• Please call me*120*7867# supported by a USSD
The Centre operates a national, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, call centre facility.