Protection from Domestic Abuse | Western Cape Government

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Protection from Domestic Abuse


If you're the victim of domestic abuse and your abuser is someone you share a domestic relationship with, then you should apply for a protection order in terms of the Domestic Violence Act. A protection order has conditions, which limits the abuser's interaction with you. Should the abuser break these conditions then they can be arrested. There are different types of abuse and if the abuse involves a criminal offence, a charge can be laid for that offence.

Please remember that Magistrate Courts remain open under Lockdown  and that you can still get a protection order during this time. You can find more information on justice services available during Level 4 of Lockdown in Government Gazette No.11103

When you go to a court house or justice service point, you must -

  • at all times wear a cloth face mask or a home-made item that covers the nose and mouth or another appropriate item to cover the nose and mouth, and
  • observe the social distancing requirement of 1,5 metres in any queue or seating arrangement and must adhere to any demarcations at such court room, court house or justice service point.

The words 'domestic relationship' covers many relationships. You're in a domestic relationship with someone if you:

  • Are or were married to each other, whether you live together or not.
  • Are same-sex partners, whether you live together or not.
  • Were or are engaged, dating, or in a customary relationship, or in any relationship you or the other person believes to be romantic.
  • Have been in a sexual relationship, even for a short time.
  • Are the parents of a child.
  • Share or recently shared the same home or residence.

Domestic abuse includes:

Protection from domestic abuse

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Economic abuse
  • Intimidation
  • Stalking
  • Damage to property
  • When you are not living together, entering your property without your permission.
  • Any other controlling behaviour that may cause harm to your safety, health or well-being.

By asking for a protection order you're not laying a criminal charge, and you don't need to make a criminal charge to get a protection order. However, if you're the victim of a type of domestic abuse that is also a crime you can choose to apply for a protection order, or lay a criminal charge, or do both. Acts of abuse which are also crimes include common assault, assault with the intention of doing grievous bodily harm, indecent assault, rape, incest, attempted murder, malicious damage to property, pointing a firearm, and abuse of animals.

Once you have the protection order, if your abuser breaches (breaks the conditions of) a protection order, then that's a crime and they can be charged with the crime of contempt of court (even if the breaching act is not ordinarily a crime, for example, controlling behaviour). If the breach itself involves a crime such as assault, then they can be charged with both contempt of court and assault.

Having a protection order means having the power to have your abuser arrested as soon as they commit an act of abuse. All you need to do is report that they breached the conditions, and the police must act immediately.

Before getting a protection order, you can get an interim protection order quite quickly by filling in some forms, and that interim order will specify a date at which the final order will be considered (a return date). Once a final order is made, it's permanent and can only be changed by applying to the courts.

The kinds of protection depends on your circumstances. Some conditions of a protection order may include:

  • Your abuser must not commit any act of domestic abuse.
  • Your abuser must pay your rent, mortgage payments or other emergency money.
  • The police must seize any firearms or dangerous weapons in your abuser's possession.
  • The police must go with you and help you to collect your personal property.
  • Your address must not be given anywhere on the protection order.

Please click here for information on how you can obtain a protection order.


Provided At: These facility categories:
Provided by:
Government Body: (The Government of South Africa)
The content on this page was last updated on 24 November 2021