You’ve Applied For Your Protection Order. Now What?

Abrie van der Merwe – Associate

Let’s assume you are the applicant and you have followed the process of applying for a protection order. There are three possible outcomes:

  1. Your application can be dismissed outright. This means the Magistrate has decided that there is no merit to your application.
  2. You can receive an interim protection order along with a return date, which is when you will have to go back to Court and tell your story to the Magistrate, focussing on the allegations of harassment and/or domestic violence. This is the best possible outcome as you will receive protection in terms of the relevant Act (from the date that the protection order is served on the offending party) until the outcome of the matter.  This means that a Magistrate has already decided you are in need of protection.
  3. You can be issued with a “Notice to Show Cause”. This is a compromise between the above two options in that you will have the opportunity to go to Court and tell your story, however you will not receive an interim protection order and therefore will not have the protection of an interim protection order pending the finalisation of your application.


If you received either an interim order or a Notice to Show Cause, it is important to make note of the return date when you need to go to Court, as the application can be dismissed without further consideration if you fail to attend at Court without a valid excuse.

If you are granted an interim protection order, it is important to ensure that the interim protection order is served on the offending party as soon as possible either through the South African Police Service or a Sheriff of the Court. Your protection only kicks in once the offending party has been served with the interim protection order.

At the end of the matter, when all evidence has been led and arguments made, the Magistrate will make a decision on whether to grant or dismiss the application.  In layman’s terms, whether you receive a final protection order or not.

Should the application be dismissed, this is the end of the matter.

If you receive a final protection order, you will be provided with a copy of the order for your safekeeping, which will be proof of the order and the fact that the respondent is prohibited from certain behaviour and/or committing certain acts.  In the event that the respondent does anything that is prohibited, it will amount to a contravention of a protection order.

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