In terms of the preamble to the Domestic Violence Act, it was enacted due to the State recognising that that domestic violence is a serious social evil and that there is a high incidence of domestic violence within South African society. The legislators recognised that victims of domestic violence are among the most vulnerable members of society.
The Act deals with various acts of domestic violence which take on many forms and committed in a wide range of domestic relationships.
The Act defines a “domestic relationship” as follows:
a) they are or were married to each other, including marriage according to any law, custom or religion;
b) they (whether they are of the same or of the opposite sex) live or lived together in a relationship in the nature of marriage, although they are not, or were not, married to each other, or are not able to be married to each other;
c) they are the parents of a child or are persons who have or had parental responsibility for that child (whether or not at the same time);
d) they are family members related by consanguinity, affinity or adoption;
e) they are or were in an engagement, dating or customary relationship, including an actual or perceived romantic, intimate or sexual relationship of any duration; or
f) they share or recently shared the same residence;
The Act defines “domestic violence” as follows:
a) physical abuse;
b) sexual abuse;
c) emotional, verbal and psychological abuse;
d) economic abuse;
h) damage to property;
i) entry into the complainant’s residence without consent, where the parties do not share the same residence; or
j) any other controlling or abusive behaviour towards a complainant, where such conduct harms, or may cause imminent harm to, the safety, health or wellbeing of the complainant;
Steps to obtain a protection order:
In order to apply for a domestic violence interdict or a protection order you will need to approach your local Magistrates Court.
When you arrive you request to be directed to the domestic violence section where you will be met by a clerk who will provide you with forms to complete.
You will need to complete the forms requesting an interim protection order which may later be confirmed. The application is made by way of an affidavit which must state the facts on which the application is based and the kind of interdict that is requested.
Be as detailed as you can in the affidavit describing the abuse that you have suffered and the likelihood of the abuse repeating itself. Include vivid descriptions with dates and times if possible. Do not leave anything out – even if you feel ashamed – it must be recorded in the affidavit.