Do you know what to do if a person is being threatened or Harassed?


Take action! Never stand back and assume that the perpetrator will stop if you do not react. Yes, you may be one of the fortunate ones, but is it really worth taking the risk?

In this post our Family Attorneys will explain you what to do, because It is important to distinguish the “relationship” you have with the respondent to identify which act you can seek a protection order against. The two Acts are described below:

Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998

Who can apply?



Anyone in a domestic relationship with the complainant may apply for a protection order under this Act. A domestic relationship is defined in section 1 of the Act, as:

A relationship between a complainant and a respondent in any of the following ways:

  • they are or were married to each other, including marriage according to any law, custom or religion;
  • they (whether they are of the same or of the opposite sex) live or lived together in a relationship in the nature of marriage, although they are not, or were not, married to each other, or are not able to be married to each other;
  • they are the parents of a child or are persons who have or had parental responsibility for that child (whether or not at the same time);
  • they are family members related by consanguinity, affinity or adoption;
  • they are or were in an engagement, dating or customary relationship, including an actual or perceived romantic, intimate or sexual relationship of any duration; or
  • they share or recently shared the same residence.


The application may be brought, on behalf of the complainant, by any other person, including a counsellor, health service provider, member of the South African Police Service, social worker or teacher, who has a material interest in the wellbeing of the complainant.  Provided that the application is brought with the written consent of the complainant.

Where the complainant is a minor, mentally challenged, unconscious, or a person where the court is satisfied is unable to provide the required consent, no consent by the complainant is required.


A minor, or any person on behalf of a minor, may bring an apply for a protection order without the assistance of a parent, guardian or any other person.


What constitutes domestic violence?

“domestic violence” means,-

  • physical abuse;
  • sexual abuse;
  • emotional, verbal and psychological abuse;
  • economic abuse;
  • intimidation;
  • harassment:
  • stalking;
  • damage to property:
  • entry into the complainant’s residence without consent, where the parties do not share the same residence; or
  • any other controlling or abusive behaviour towards a complainant,

where such conduct harms, or may cause imminent harm to, the safety. health or well-being of the complainant.

What should I do?

If you feel that your relationship with the respondent constitutes a domestic relationship as contemplated above, and that you have been victim to any of the acts of domestic violence, as listed above, you must apply for a protection order against the respondent in terms of Section 4(1) of the Domestic Violence Act.

You must apply at your nearest Magistrate Court for an order seeking protection and have such application served on the respondent by way of Peace Officer or Sheriff, or any other manner the court may direct you to do so.


Who can Apply?

Under Section 1 of the Harassment Act, a “complainant” means any person who alleges that he or she is being subjected to harassment.

What constitutes Harassment under the Harassment Act?

“harassment” means 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 or a related person by unreasonably:
  • following, watching, pursuing or accosting of the complainant or a related person, or loitering outside of or near the building or place where the complainant or a related person resides, works, carries on business, studies or happens to be;
  • engaging in verbal, electronic or any other communication aimed at the complainant or a related person, by any means, whether or not conversation ensues; or
  • sending, delivering or causing the delivery of letters, telegrams, packages, facsimiles, electronic mail or other objects to the complainant or a related person or leaving them where they will be found by, given to or brought to the attention of, the complainant or a related person; or
  • amounts to sexual harassment of the complainant or a related person.

What should I do?

If your complaint constitutes harassment as contemplated above, you can approach a magistrate court to apply for a protection order against the Respondent under section 2(1).