The Process Of Protection Orders In South Africa | Legal Articles


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The Process Of Protection Orders In South Africa

There are several incidents of physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse in our society today but unfortunately, most of them go unreported due to various dynamics and circumstances of the parties concerned. So rampant is the abuse especially against women and children such that the United Nations recognizes a commemoration of activism against such during the annual 16 Days of Activism of No Violence against Women and Children campaign, which took place between 25 November and 10 December in 2021.

A Protection Order is available for complainants in domestic violence incidents, and in this article we will give a brief overview of how one may pursue the process to secure a protection order against abuse. 

  1. Approach the police station to report the incident.  

The first step by the complainant is approaching the nearest police station to where the incident happened, where they live or where the respondent lives, and report the incident. Depending on the circumstances, it might be necessary for a separate criminal case to be opened, although a lot of complainants usually want the protection order only owing to the domestic relationship affinity between them and the abuser.

  1. Referral to the Clerk of the Court for registration of the complaint.

After completion of the forms and the supporting affidavits, the police will refer the matter and complainant to the nearest Court. A complainant may also approach the Clerk of Court directly to complete the forms and open a file, although it is advisable to start with the police station so that a determination for a separate criminal case may be considered.

  1. Prima Facie establishment of abuse.

The next stage is the establishment of the fact that the complainant suffered abuse. It should also be determined whether the abuse was an isolated incident or a trend of the abuse is evident.

  1. Issuing of Interim Protection Order, and service on the Respondent.

Once established that the complainant suffered abuse, the Court will issue an Interim Protection Order which, sets conditions that the abuser must desist from against the complainant. Further, it will invite the Respondent on a set date (return date), to give the Respondent an opportunity to defend the application before it is made a final Order.

  1. Hearing and determination of a Final Protection Order

On the return date, the Court hears the case of the Complainant as well as the Respondent. It is important for parties to bring evidence and witnesses to augment their cases as this is critical in the determination of whether the Court will dismiss the application or grant a final order, which is issued together with an arrest warrant, suspended for execution until the Respondent violates the conditions of the order.

  1. Violation of conditions of the Protection Order

Should the Court grant the final order, the Respondent will be bound by it and ought to desist from abusing the complainant in ways set out in the order. It is important for the Respondent to adhere to these conditions, such that where the Respondent violates any of them the complainant may report to the police and the police may arrest the Respondent or give them a Notice to Appear to answer to the charges. Violation of a protection order is treated as contempt of Court, because effectively, it is a Court order that would have been violated.


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.

Contact us for comprehensive assistance.

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