The first point of call for victims of domestic violence when reporting an incident is the South African Police Service (SAPS). After that, they would follow a procedure with the domestic violence sections at the courts, the Public Prosecutors and shelters if need be.
Legal access is a privilege in South Africa, and if we were honest, it is a privilege that is afforded to a minority – those who can afford it. Although your rights are freely accessible online (if you can afford data to access it), your legal rights explained in the context of your unique situation can only be given to you by a legal expert.
Often, financial abuse coincides with all other forms of abuse as it the primary way that abusers control their victims. Therefore, few victims have the funding to access specialist legal advice or have the means to access data to source their rights online.
In an article written by Penny Parenzee, a consultant at the Consultant of Security Services, she advises on some of the services that victims of abuse must expect from public servants, particularly the SAPS when reporting incidents of domestic violence.
Based on this article, below are some of the services the SAPS must provide as outlined in the Domestic Violence Act:
The SAPS must do the following:
- Explain to victims how they can help the victim, including; finding a suitable shelter and ensuring they receive medical treatment.
- Tell victims that they have a right to apply for a protection order and explain how to do so.
- Serve notice on the abuser to appear in court and serve protection orders if instructed to do so by the court.
- Arrest the abuser when he/she violates the protection order
- Remove weapons that the abuser may have in their possession or at their home.
- Accompany the complainant to their home to collect personal items from home.
- Keep records documenting reports of domestic violence incidents.
To read the full article about the services to expect from various servants when reporting domestic violence, read the full article here.