The Role Of The SAPS in Domestic Violence Matters | Legal Articles


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The Role Of The SAPS in Domestic Violence Matters

The South African Police Service (SAPS) is entrusted with obligations and responsibilities in terms of the South African Police Service Act 68 of 1995 (as amended) to, inter alia, “A member who is obliged to perform an official duty, shall, with due regard to his or her powers, duties and functions, perform such duty in a manner that is reasonable in the circumstances”, as per Section 13 (3) (a).

Section 13 (4) provides that “Every member shall be competent to serve or execute any summons, warrant or other process whether directed to him or her or to any other member”.

In domestic violence matters, the SAPS has an important role to play and accepting that the mandate of the police is to assist members of the public to fight and report crime, this article will outline the basic role that the SAPS plays so that one may be able to request and expect the attendance of the SAPS where they are mandated to assist.

Role of SAPS in domestic violence cases

Role of SAPS in Domestic Violence Cases

  1. Reporting the abuse. When the complainant decides to report the abuse themselves, they may do so at the nearest police station to where the abuser resides, where the victim resides or where the abuse took place. The SAPS must assist the complainant to complete the forms and affidavits before the matter is referred to the Clerk of Court for further handling. The SAPS also need to establish whether a criminal case must be opened against the abuser.
  1. Rendering assistance as per Section 2 of the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998 (the Act). The SAPS is mandated to assist complainants of domestic violence incidents in a way necessary under the circumstances, including for purposes of medical attendance.

Any member of the South African Police Service must, at the scene of an incident of domestic violence or as soon thereafter as is reasonably possible, or when the incident of domestic violence is reported- (a) render such assistance to the complainant as may be required in the circumstances, including assisting or making arrangements for the complainant to find a suitable shelter and to obtain medical treatment;

  1. Arrest of Respondents. The SAPS may arrest, as per Section 3 of the Act, a Respondent at the scene of the incident if they are of the reasonable view that an act of domestic violence has been committed, without a warrant. The Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 in section 40 alike, allows the SAPS to make an arrest without a warrant if the provided circumstances exist.
  1. Bringing the application. Where a person alleged to be a victim of domestic violence is unable to bring the application themselves, Section 4 (3) of the Act empowers such officials as the SAPS to bring the application for a protection order on behalf of and with written consent of the complainant unless if the complainant is a minor, mentally unstable, unconscious or one whom the Court recognises as not able to give consent.
  1. Execution of warrants as per Section 8 of the Act. Whenever a protection order is issued, a warrant of arrest is caused to be issued but its execution is suspended until the respondent violates the conditions of the protection order. The SAPS will execute such warrant by arresting the Respondent.
  1. Service of process as per Section 13. Members of the SAPS may be required by the Court to serve any process of Court to the respondent if circumstances allow.
  1. Seizure of arms and dangerous weapons. Section 9 of the Act mandates the SAPS, upon authorisation by the Court, to seize any dangerous weapons or arms in the possession of the respondent where there is risk that these may endanger the life of the complainant.

Van Deventer & Van Deventer Inc. - Family Attorneys South Africa

The above are but some of the responsibilities of the SAPS in domestic violence matters as per the Act. Complainants therefore, may request and expect the SAPS to assist them in the above situations.

Our family law department legal practitioners are seasoned in protection order matters, whether applying for or defending one. Whether you are the applicant or respondent, you are welcome to Contact us for comprehensive assistance.

The information and material published on this website is provided for general purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. We make every effort to ensure that the content is updated regularly and to offer the most current and accurate information. Please consult one of our lawyers on any specific legal problem or matter. We accept no responsibility for any loss or damage, whether direct or consequential, which may arise from reliance on the information contained in these pages.

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