What To Do If A Protection Order Is Granted Against You

Abrie van der Merwe – Associate

Having a protection order served on you is a serious and stressful experience.

Ordinarily, you will receive a phone call from a member of the South African Police Service, who will inform you that a protection order has been issued against you and they want you to come to the police station to sign for it.  The alternative is that members of the South African Police Services arrive at your place of residence or work, unannounced, and have you sign for the protection order.

It is important to not resist the signing of the protection order and that you cooperate with the members of the South African Police Services in being served with the protection order.

In circumstances where you and the complainant were living together, there is a possibility that the protection order will order that you vacate the premises or the complainant may voluntarily decide to vacate the premises. In either instance, the members of the South African Police Services will escort you or the complainant through the house to collect their personal belongings.

In the event that the protection order does not make provision for you to vacate the property or the complainant continues to reside on the property (i.e. you continue to reside together), it is important to peruse the order to establish whether you are prohibited in entering certain rooms or parts of the residence.  The prohibitions will only be applicable if the complainant had received an interim order.

Regardless of whether an interim order was granted or only a notice to show cause was issued, it is imperative that you conduct yourself carefully where and whenever the complainant is involved as anything can aggravate the situation and thereby increase the chances that a final order is granted against you. Also, if you commit any act which is prohibited by the interim protection order, you will be in contravention of the interim protection order and a warrant for your arrest can be effected.

Just to be safe, consult with your attorney as a matter of urgency to receive advice on how to proceed.

It is also important to take note of the return date – i.e. when you have to go to Court and inform the Magistrate that you intend to oppose the application (assuming you wish to do so).

You will be provided with an opportunity to give your version of events.  You can do this by giving oral evidence in Court or submitting an affidavit to the Clerk of the Court.  The Magistrate will usually indicate at the first appearance how they wish the parties to proceed (either by way of oral evidence or by affidavit).

If a final protection order is granted against you at the end of the proceedings, it is important that you refrain from committing any act that is prohibited by the order.  You will be provided with a copy of the final protection order so it will be easy to clarify which acts are prohibited, but it is wise to err on the side of extreme caution.

With recent amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act, 51 of 1977, it is required that you disclose to a Magistrate during bail proceedings whether there are any pending- or final protection order granted against you.

A Magistrate is also entitled to make an order to the effect that your firearm is confiscated by a member of the South Africa Police Service.

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