How to get a protection order against harassment

2019-11-13 06:01

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Question:

I have an ex who is harassing me in person and on social media after we’ve broken up.

The more I make it clear to him that we are done, the more aggressive he gets and the uglier comments he makes. I’m scared and also ashamed of everything he is saying on social media. I want him to stop, but don’t have the money to consult a lawyer for advice. Can you tell me what to do?

Answer:

These types of situations are becoming more prevalent and often escalate until they are out of hand.

To assist persons to deal with these situations, the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998 allows you to obtain a protection order which can assist to stop your ex from continuing with his conduct or risk being criminally liable for contravening the protection order.

Although it remains useful to ask your attorney for assistance, the Act caters for the individual to obtain a protection order themselves, following these basic steps:

Firstly, there must be a form of “domestic relationship” between parties. This is defined quite wide in the Act and caters for a range of relationships that would be included under such a relationship beyond the normal instances of a married couple.

It would include persons in a romantic relationship (past or present), family members and relatives, and even persons that live or were living together whether in a relationship or not.

If a domestic relationship existed, as it appears in your case, the next step will be for you to be able to show that the conduct amounts to “domestic violence”. Again, the definition is quite broad and can include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, intimidation, stalking and harassment.

It does sound like there are grounds to show that the conduct of your ex could amount to domestic violence. You can consider approaching a court for a protection order, which is a relatively simple and cost-effective process. Every Magistrate’s Court provide for granting of protection orders, and in some areas, you will even find specific specialist courts that deal specifically with domestic violence cases.

First, go and fill in an application form at court. You must provide reasons why you are asking for a protection order. Keep in mind the definitions of domestic relationship and violence discussed above when.

Then arrange to have the form commissioned at your local police station if the court cannot assist you with this, and submit the completed and commissioned form at court.

  • You will then be requested to appear before a magistrate to address the court on why you are requesting the order and for the court to consider granting the order or not. The Magistrate may then either: refuse to grant any order if there are no grounds for the protection order; or ) issue a notice to show cause, but without an interim protection order. This notice will be served on the other party with a return date for them to appear in court and give reasons for the protection order not to be made final; or) grant an interim protection order. This is already a protection order of which notice will be served on the other party and containing a court date when the other party must provide reasons why the interim protection order should not be made a final order.

Should a protection order be granted and the other party contravenes it, you can approach your police station with the order as well as information about the contravention.

Following this, the party can be charged with contravention of a protection order and even be arrested and detained as the protection order document is tantamount to an arrest warrant.

  • Side note: You can also apply to the court for a protection order in terms of the Protection from Harassment Act 17 of 2011. The Act’s definition of harassment includes directly or indirectly engaging in conduct that the respondent knows or ought to know causes harm or inspires the reasonable belief that harm may be caused to the complainant by unreasonably engaging in verbal, electronic or other communication aimed at the complainant by any means, whether or not conversation ensues (our emphasis). This act does not require for the complainant to be in some sort of a relationship with the respondent. Arthur Koorts, Phatshoane Henney Attorneys.
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