The objective of the Act is to provide an effective legal procedure for victims of domestic violence and to facilitate a cheap procedure that can be followed in the magistrate’s court
The Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998
Legislation that is specifically aimed at legal protection against domestic violence is the Domestic Violence Act, which came into effect in December 1999. The objective of the Act is to provide an effective legal procedure for victims of domestic violence and to facilitate a cheap procedure that can be followed in the magistrate’s court, in addition to the more expensive application to the High Court for an interdict. Certain sections of the previous Prevention of Family Violence Act, however, remain in force.
Who can apply?
The Domestic Violence Act makes provision for the granting of an interdict in the magistrates’ court at the instance of any person, including a child, who is or has been in a domestic relationship with the respondent. Any of these persons may apply for a protection order. A “domestic relationship” is given an extended meaning. The definition is no longer limited only to include a man and woman who are or have been married to each other according to any law or custom or who ordinarily live or lived together as husband and wife. It is now available to any person who lives or lived with another person in a relationship similar to a marriage, regardless of whether the parties to the relationship are of the opposite or the same sex and even extends to include persons who “are or were in an engagement, dating or customary relationship, which includes but is not limited to an actual or perceived romantic, intimate or sexual relationship of any duration”.
An order may be requested by any person who shares or shared the same household or residence with the respondent. The Act provides for the application to be brought on behalf of the applicant with the applicant’s written consent. Where applicants are incapacitated on the grounds of age, insanity or are unconscious or under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, any other person may bring the application on their behalf.
A minor may apply for such an order without the protection of hisher guardian.
Source: Family Law Service
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