It is a fact of family life that there is often emotionally charged environments, where things may happen that is out of a person's control.  There is however also the possibility that a person may enter into an abusive relationship, or whereby a healthy relationship may turn abusive over time, or due to certain factors, such as a divorce, or a dispute about household activities, finances or children.


Sometimes the quickest and most comprehensive way to protect yourself is to approach the Domestic Violence Court, as in many circumstances the first call in this regard to the South African Police Services may only result in them referring you to this court.

Every Magistrate's Court has a domestic violence court section, and you will need to approach the appropriate Magistrate's Court of the area where you live.  This court will, within a day, if not the same day, provide a person with interim interdict, which is effective immediately.  The court will then provide the person with a date whereby the matter will need to be argued to either a) be made final or b) to be cancelled.

The seven forms of abuse this court may be approached for, for any person in a domestic relationship (married couples, unmarried couples, children, parents, grand parents, etc.):

   1. Verbal Abuse;

   2. Emotional Abuse;

   3. Physical Abuse;

   4. Sexual Abuse;

   5. Financial Abuse;

   6. Threats of Violence;

   7. Psychological Abuse

The form of abuse that is often overlooked is that of financial abuse.  If for instance you are living with someone, and that person always pays a certain bill, but then suddenly stops without a good reason, or out of spite or maliciousness, the Domestic Violence Court can be approached, if the behaviour of the person constitutes that of abuse.

An important aspect of the interim order that this court may issue, is that it is effective immediately, and if a person contravenes the order, he can be arrested for a criminal offence, being that of contravention of a protection order.  It also has to be noted that the courts take this seriously, as normal matters that are heard in the lower courts have a maximum penalty of 3 years direct imprisonment, whereas domestic violence may have a maximum imprisonment of up to 5 years.

The orders that the court may give in the order may range from that a person keeps paying certain necessary bills, that a person may not enter a certain premises, or a part thereof, that a person may not be removed from a premises, that a person is prohibited from contacting someone, or that they are prohibited from commiting any of the aforementioned forms of abuse.  Parents can obtain an order in this regard on behalf of a minor child, or themselves.


If the parties are not in a domestic relationship, the Harassment Court can be approached, and this court works on the same principles as the Domestic Violence Court, and is sometimes heard by the same Magistrate or in the same Court.

The relevant of this in family is that an order may be obtained against abusive family members, friends, acquaintances or significant others of the person whom you are in a domestic relationship with.

© 2020 Anton Swart Attorneys Inc

Block 15 D, Central Office Park

257 Jean Avenue,

Centurion, Pretoria

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