You have right and there are ways to protect yourself against an abuser. If the abuser threatens your life and you live in fear of the abuser, then a protection order could be an option.
Here’s what you need to know about applying for a protection order:
- Anyone can apply for a protection order against someone who is abusing them and with whom they are in a domestic relationship.
- You apply for “a protection order at the domestic violence section of your nearest magistrate’s court, or the magistrate’s court that is closest to the victim.”
- A protection order is valid in South Africa, regardless of the court at which you received it.
- Take evidence with you when doing to the court to apply for the protection order including; photographs, doctor’s letter and affidavits by witnesses.
- You must make sure you read the forms carefully when completing it and ask the court clerk to explain anything you do not understand. They have to explain it to you.
- Make sure you know the home or work address of the abuser.
- Once you have completed the application form, the court clerk will take the application to the magistrate who will evaluate all the details of the application. The magistrate will grant an interim protection order if deemed necessary, which will protect you until the date you and the abuser must appear in court.
- You must make sure you appear on the return date to appear in court, or the interim protection order will lapse.
- The interim protection order can only be used against the abuser legally if it was served on the abuser.
- If the magistrate does not grant a protection order, you can open a criminal case against an abuser.
- Even if the magistrate does not grant an interim protection order, the court must serve the abuser. The court must deliver a copy of the application form, the witness statements and the notice of the return date.
- The sheriff or the police can deliver the documents. The sheriff might charge a fee. If you cannot afford the cost, you need to inform the court clerk who should arrange or the police to deliver it free of charge, or the court could cover the fee of the sheriff.
The process, as mentioned above, is the first part of the process in applying for a protection order. It is essential to know your rights so that you can challenge anyone who attempts to withhold your rights from you. To get more information on the process to follow after you have received a protection order and for further details on the Domestic Violence Act, read the full document by clicking here.