Legal Procedures

Domestic Violence Act (DVA) Procedures

Go to your nearest police station. Take someone with you who will be able to support you in a calm, but persistent way. Tell the police officer that you would like to report a case of domestic abuse. The police officer must give you a copy of this form (J471E). If they don’t, ask for it.

If you want to apply for a protection order in terms of the DVA, tell the police officer, and he/she will give you a copy of this form (J480E), which you must complete and sign in front of a Commissioner of Oaths. You can then take the form, and your ID to the Clerk of the Court, who will open a file for you and take you to see a Magistrate.

If you try to report abuse at a police station and the police officers do not help you, show them this page which explains what their duties are, and tells you what steps to take if the police officers do not help you. If they still refuse, report the police officers’ conduct to SAPS GBVF-related Service Complaints at 0800 333 177 or complaintsnodalpoint@saps.gov.za.

The Magistrate will consider the information provided in the form and may ask you questions. If it is clear that abuse has/is being committed and that you are in danger, the magistrate must issue an Interim Protection Order (IPO). This order is a document that orders the abuser to stop abusing you, otherwise he will be arrested. The Court will also issue a notice to the abuser to come to court to say why the order should not be made into a Final Protection Order (FPO). The order is then handed to the abuser and a warrant of arrest is issued by the Court and given to you so that if the abuse happens again, you can take it to the closest police station, and tell the police to arrest the abuser.

You will then have to go back to Court on the return date to ask the Magistrate to make the order final. At that stage, the abuser will have a chance to speak to the Magistrate and bring his own evidence. If it is clear that abuse has/is being committed and that you are in danger, the magistrate must issue a FPOThe Clerk of the court must then send copies of the Final Protection order and the warrant of arrest to a police station of your choice.

If your abuser abuses you in breach of an IPO or FPO, it is a criminal offence, and he will be prosecuted and get a criminal record.

You can ask for an IPO or FPO to include other provisions, for example ordering the abuser to give you emergency monetary relief or allowing you, with police assistance, to return home to collect your possessions so that you can move out of the home safely. 

You do not need a lawyer to help you with this process, although you may use one if you have one.  If you have any questions about this process, you are welcome to call our free legal helpline 0860 333 353 or use our free WhatsApp line 063 603 3759.

Criminal Procedures

Some acts of domestic violence are also criminal offences, for example rape, assault, assault with intent to cause grievious bodily harm, attempted murder etc, and you can lay a criminal charge against the abuser. To do this, you will need to report the offence at a police station by laying a charge and making a statement. The case will then be investigated by the police which may lead to your abuser being arrested and prosecuted. If he is found guilty, he will be sentenced and receive a criminal record. It is important to note that this process could take very long, and you are usually afforded no protection in the meantime. It is advisable that if you lay a criminal charge, you also get a protection order in terms of the DVA.