With the recent Oscar Pistorius case, my attention was drawn to Domestic Violence in South Africa. Living in the country where it’s all taking place, I watched a lot of interviews online and on news channels about this issue as they covered the case for a worldwide audience. While it was understood this is a real problem in the country, I didn’t hear any actual facts or figures. As a result, I’ve done some extensive research into this topic and can give you some statistics about what kind of problem we are looking at here.
South Africa has one of the highest incidences of domestic violence in the world. Organisations estimate that one out of every six woman is regularly assaulted by her partner. In at least 46% of cases, the men involved also abuse the children living with the woman. Reeva Steenkamp was statistically just one of three women killed on Valentine’s Day by an intimate partner.
Domestic violence can take a variety of forms and generally includes the following acts:
Any act or threat of physical violence intended to cause physical pain, injury, suffering or bodily harm. Physical abuse can include hitting, slapping, punching, choking, pushing and any other type of contact that results in physical injury to the victim.
Any conduct that abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the sexual integrity of the victim. Sexual abuse is any situation in which force or threat is used to obtain participation in unwanted sexual activity.
Emotional, verbal and psychological abuse
Usually a pattern of degrading or humiliating conduct towards the victim privately or publicly, including repeated insults, ridicule, name calling and/or repeated threats to cause emotional pain; or the repeated exhibition of obsessive possessiveness or jealousy, which is such as to constitute a serious invasion of the victim’s privacy, liberty, integrity and/or security.
Includes the unreasonable deprivation of economic or financial resources to which the victim is entitled under law or requires out of necessity, including household necessities, mortgage bond repayments, rent money in the case of a shared residence, and/or the unreasonable disposal of household effects or other property in which the victim has an interest.
Uttering or conveying a threat, or causing a victim to receive a threat, which induces fear. The abuser may use a variety of intimidation tactics designed to scare the victim into submission. Such tactics may include smashing things in front of the victim, destroying property, hurting the victim’s pets or showing off a weapon. The clear message is that if the victim doesn’t obey, there might be violent consequences.
Engaging in a pattern of conduct that induces a fear of harm in the victim, including repeatedly watching the victim; loitering outside of or near the building/place where the victim resides, works, carries out business, studies or happens to be; repeatedly making telephone calls or inducing another person to make telephone calls to the victim, whether or not conversation ensues; repeatedly sending, delivering or causing the delivery of letters, emails, texts, packages or other objects to the victim.
The term is used to define a particular kind of harassment. Generally, it refers to a long-term pattern of persistent and repetitive contact with, or attempts to contact, a particular victim. Examples of the types of conduct often associated with stalking include: direct communication; physical following; indirect contact through friends, work colleagues, family or technology (email or SMS); and other intrusions into the victim’s privacy. The abuse may also take place on social networks like Facebook, on-line forums, Twitter, instant messaging, SMS, BBM or via chat software. The stalker may use websites to post offensive material, create fake profiles or even make a dedicated website about the victim.
Damage to property
- Wilful damaging or destruction of property belonging to the victim or in which the victim has a vested interest.
- Entry into property
- Entry into the victim’s residence without consent, where the parties do not share the same residence.
- Any other controlling or abusive behaviour
Any conduct that harms, or may cause imminent harm to, the safety, health or well being of the victim. ‘Imminent harm’ includes situations where:
- the perpetrator is in the possession of a firearm and has threatened to use the firearm against the victim, or her dependants or other family members;
- the perpetrator has used a weapon against the victim in previous incidences of domestic violence (not restricted to dangerous weapons, such as firearms or knives);
- the victim was critically injured by the perpetrator on a previous occasion, or on the occasion in question;
- the victim and her children have been ‘kicked out’ of the shared residence by the perpetrator or anyone affiliated with him;
- the victim has sufficient evidence (i.e. witness statements) that the perpetrator has threatened to harm her; and
- the victim fears for the safety of her children.
A “protection order”, also called a “restraining order” or “domestic violence interdict”, is a court order that tells an abuser to stop the abuse and sets certain conditions preventing the abuser from harassing or abusing the victim again. It may also help ensure that the abuser continues to pay rent or a bond or interim maintenance. The protection order may also prevent the abuser from getting help from any other person to commit abusive acts.
Yokhuselo Haven is a safe house offering counselling and accommodation for abuse victims. They offer this for free, 24 hours a day. http://www.yokhuselohaven.co.za/ 041-5814310. They are based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
FAMSA has offices nationwide and gives counselling to the abused and their families. To find your nearest FAMSA branch, call 011 975 7101, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website www.famsa.org.za.
Lifeline provides 24-hour counselling services. Call the SA National Counselling Line on 0861 322 322.
People Opposing Women Abuse or POWA provides telephonic, counselling and legal support to women experiencing abuse. POWA also accompanies women to court and assists them in filling out documents. Call the POWA helpline on 083 765 1235 or visit www.powa.co.za.
Legal Aid South Africa offers legal assistance. To locate your nearest Justice Centre, call 0861 053 425 or visit www.legal-aid.co.za.
Rape Crisis offers free confidential counselling to people who have been raped or sexually assaulted. Call 011 642 4345.
University campus law clinics also offer legal assistance.
Apply for a protection order at a Magistrates Court nearest to where you live and work, at any time, during and outside court hours as well as on public holidays or weekends.
First, apply for the Interim Protection Order by completing Form 6 below.
Once you have applied for the Interim Protection Order, complete Form 2 below.
The application must be made by way of an affidavit which states the:
- facts on which the application is based
- nature of the order
- name of the police station where the complainant is likely to report any breach of the protection order.
Where the application is brought on behalf of a complainant by another person, the affidavit must state the:
- grounds on which the other person has a material interest in the well-being of the complainant
- occupation of the other person and capacity in which such a person brings the application
- written consent of the complainant, except in cases where the complainant is: a minor, mentally retarded, unconscious or a person whom the court is satisfied that he or she is unable to provide the required consent.
On receipt of the form, the clerk will send your application to the magistrate who will then set a date for you to return to court, so that your application can be considered.
The magistrate will also prepare a notice to inform the abuser about the protection order and when he or she should come to court.
After the court appearance, the magistrate may grant the protection order.
- Form 1: Notice to complainant in a case of domestic violence [J471]
- Form 2: Application for Protection Order [J480]
- Form 3: Information notice to complainant [J506]
- Form 4: Interim Protection Order [J507]
- Form 5: Notice to Respondent to show cause (submit response) why a protection order should not be issued 
- Form 6: Protection Order [J551]
- Form 7: Protection Order (no interim protection order issued) [J566]
- Form 8: Warrant of Arrest [J590]
- Form 9: Affidavit for purposes of further warrant of arrest [J591]
- Form 10: Affidavit regarding contravention of protection order [J608]
- Form 11: Notice to appear before court [J645]
- Form 12: Application for variation or setting aside of protection order [J649]
- Form 13: Notice of variation or setting aside of protection order [J653]
Photo: Death To The Stock Photo