Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

These are questions most asked to our team. If anything is unclear, or you need further assistance, please contact your area social worker team, number listed under contact information

Just click on the topic underneath, then the link of the right for Desktop or Below on Mobiles.

  • victim related questions
  • police related questions
  • more protection order questions
  • more police / protection order questions
  • bail related questions
  • more on bail
  • serious crimes questions
  • more on crime and bail
  • more on court and crimes
  • sexual crimes
  • more on sexual crimes
  • what are the rights of victims of rape and related sexual crimes?
  • Q.What is the difference between a primary and secondary victim?

    A primary victim is the person the crime or violence actually happens to. A secondary victim, is someone who witnesses the crime or violence, lives in the home or the community where it is taking place and is affected by the consequences, but has the same traumatic responses.

  • Q. What are my Rights as a Victim?

    You have the right to receive information: You have the right to be informed of your rights and how to exercise them. The right to protection: You have the right to be free from intimidation, harassment, fear, tampering, bribery, corruption and abuse. You should report such threats to the police or prosecutor.

    http://www.justice.gov.za/VC/docs/victims-rights-brochure.pdf

     

  • Q. What is Domestic Violence?

    You are experiencing Domestic Violence, DV, if a person, a MAN or a WOMAN, who you are in a relationship with does one or more of the following things to you:

    Physical Abuse:  when they harm you physically, like beating, slapping, kicking, choking, stabbing, burning or using weapons on you.

    Sexual Abuse:  when the person harms you sexually, like raping you or other sexual acts against your will that infringe on your dignity.

    Emotional Abuse:  when the person intentionally says things that hurt and harm you, emotionally, like saying something they know will hurt your feelings, shouting at you, insulting you, calling you bad things.  This is to make you feel bad about yourself and also includes threatening you so you behave the way s/he wants you to.  This could be threatening to kill you if you divorce him/her, or saying you will never see your child again.

    Psychological Abuse:  when the person intentionally harms you, psychologically, by saying and doing things to impact your mental and psychological state of mind.  It makes you feel you have no dignity, you are worthless and you doubt your own judgement and sanity.

    Verbal Abuse:  when the person harms you by saying hurtful things to you, calling you terrible names, insulting you, shouting at you as the main way of communication.

    Economic Abuse:  when the person uses money to control you or your behaviour, denies you finances in the home, takes your earnings, controls everything around money, makes you perform acts to get your money or the household money and places conditions around the household finances, like if you don’t do this, then the children won’t get food, or if you don’t stop seeing those friends you will get nothing for the house.

    Intimidation:  when a person threatens to hurt or harm you, your children, family, friends if you do not do what they want you to do.  Psychological, emotional and verbal abuse can also be intimidation.

    Harassment:  when the person watches you or follows you all the time, sends you messages and emails, leaves you unwanted notes and messages.  This even if you have asked them to stop doing such things.  It is another controlling behaviour and also speaks to psychological and emotional abuse.

    Stalking:  when the person follows you around, all the time, and you do not want them to.

    Damage to Property:  when the person damages your belongings, on purpose as a way to hurt you. Also includes breaking or destroying things at the place where you stay.

    http://www.justice.gov.za/docs/articles/201408-gcis-DomesticViolence.pdf

     

  • Q. What if the police treat me badly or give me bad service?

    You can make a complaint to the Station Commander where you got the bad service.  If you do not feel safe doing this, you can make the complaint at another SAPS station.  The Station commander must then take disciplinary steps against the officer who gave you bad service.  It is therefore really important to get their name and, if possible, their badge number.  Failing that, remember the date and time you were there and a description of the officer.

    You can also lodge a complaint with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, IPID.

    https://www.gov.za/services/victim-empowerment/lodge-complaint-about-police-misconduct

     

  • Q. How do I get a Protection Order?

    You can apply for a protection order (PO) in terms of the Domestic Violence Act if you are abused by somebody with whom you are in a domestic relationship.  You apply for your PO at the domestic violence section at your nearest magistrate’s court.  When you arrive ask to be directed to the domestic violence clerk’s office and that you want to apply for a PO.  When you apply and are granted your order, it is valid in the whole of South Africa, no matter which court gives it to you.

  • Q. What do I need to include on the Protection Order?

    The domestic violence clerk at the magistrates court will ask you to fill in an application form, so you need to know the following, as much as possible:

    Your full details, name, address, ID, place of work, phone numbers. The details of the person that is abusing you, as many as possible because this will help the court and the police.  ALL the reasons why your application may be urgent and why you will suffer if you do not get your PO urgently.  An explanation of what kind of abuse happened to you.  You need to tell the court DV clerk what kind of protection you want, name it, like ‘he must stop shouting at me, hitting me, denying me the right to see my family etc’, in other words, what behaviour you would like him to change and stop doing.  The clerk will then ask you to sear an oath that all the information you have provided is correct and true.  If you do not understand anything on the form, ask the clerk to help, there are also sometimes NGO’s like Mosaic, who operate at the DV court who are able to assist you.  If you lie on a form, it is a criminal offence and you will be liable for a jail sentence.

    It also helps to bring along any photo’s you might have as evidence of the abuse, any affidavits from witnesses, like family or neighbours or friends, any doctor’s letters that confirm your abuse.

  • Q. What happens when applying for an interim Protection Order?

    When your PO application form is completed the DV clerk will take it to the magistrate while you wait.  The magistrate will look at the facts of your case, and will consider the reasons for why your application is urgent and how you will suffer if you do not get the PO urgently.

    The magistrate will then make a decision about giving you temporary protection until the day that you and the person who abused you can both come to the court to talk about your application.

    This is your INTERIM Order, not your FINAL protection order.

    Every Interim order has a date on it when you must go back to court and appear in front of the magistrate.  This is called your ‘return date’ and you need to make sure you do not miss this date at court. If you miss this date, your interim order lapses and you are no longer under the protection of the order.

    It is important to note that the Order can only be used against the abuser if it has been legally served on him. It is not enough that you show it to the abuser.

  • Q. What can the court say in the interim or final protection order?

    The court can say that the person who is abusing you must not”:

    Enter your home, if you and the abuser do not share a home.

    Enter a certain part of the home at specific times if you and the abuser share a home, like your room, or the bathroom etc.

    Enter your workplace.

    Commit any act of domestic violence against you.

    Arrange for other people to commit an act of domestic violence against you.

     

    The court may also make any other order that it believes is reasonably necessary to protect your health, safety and wellbeing, including an order:

    To stop you from sharing a home with the abuser or going to the abuser’s home.

    Asking the police to take away any dangerous weapons from the abuser.

    Ask a police officer to go with you to the abuser’s home so that you can collect anything there that is your personal property.

    Depending on your financial situation, asking the abuser to pay rental or bond payments in respect of the home that you share.

    Depending on your financial situation, ask the abuser to pay you emergency maintenance or the expenses that you had to pay because of the domestic violence, like medical, dental, loss of income and temporary rental costs.

    Stop the abuser from seeing your children or saying that the abuser may only see the children under certain circumstances – the court will do whatever is in the best interest of the children.

  • Q. What happens if someone contravenes the Protection Order

    If the abuser does anything that the PO stops him/her from doing, then the abuser is “contravening” the terms of the PO.

    IF this happens you must go immediately to the police station, or call the police and report the contravention to them.

    The police will arrest the abuser if they believe that:

    The contravention of the order was serious.

    The abuser is going to abuse you more and cause you more serious harm if s/he is not arrested.

    Not much time has passed between the contravention and when you reported the contravention.

    If the police to not arrest the abuser they must give him/her notice to appear in court for contravening the terms of the PO.

    Contravening a PO is a criminal offence, and the abuser might face jail time or be sentenced to pay a fine or both.

    It is important to note that you, as the victim, must not provoke the abuser to break the PO.  You also need to comply with the regulations as stipulated in the PO.

  • Q. Can I stop or change a Protection Order?

    A PO only stops when you go to court and “withdraw” or cancel it, or when the court sets it aside.

    A PO can be used whenever needed for several years without being terminated.

    The abuser may also apply to court to ask for your protection order to be set aside, but the court will only listen to this application if the court is satisfied that you have been notified to come to court.

    The abuser cannot interfere with your PO without notice to you.

    You can change the terms of your PO, like maybe a new address or place of work.  You do this by making application to the Domestic Violence clerk of the magistrate’s court.

  • Q. .A PO only stops when you go to court and “withdraw” or cancel it, or when the court sets it aside. A PO can be used whenever needed for several years without being terminated. The abuser may also apply to court to ask for your protection order to be set aside, but the court will only listen to this application if the court is satisfied that you have been notified to come to court. The abuser cannot interfere with your PO without notice to you. You can change the terms of your PO, like maybe a new address or place of work. You do this by making application to the Domestic Violence clerk of the magistrate’s court.

    The police have a big role to play when it comes to DV.

    The Domestic Violence Act (DVA) states that they have certain duties to perform in DV cases.

    There is also the Victim’s Service Charter that sets out your rights. (see brochure on Victims service Charter).

    Besides these stated codes of practice, the police must tell you about your right to lay a criminal charge against the abuser, whether you are going to use the DVA or not.  These criminal charges could be rape, sexual assault, assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm, or intimidation.

    They also are supposed to take away a firearm or other dangerous weapon as mentioned by you, as it poses a threat to you.

    To arrest the abuser, when the abuse is serious, and if you are going to be further harmed if the abuser is not arrested.

    To serve on the abuser, the interim protection order and final protection order and/or notice to the abuser to attend at court.

    To record the DV incident in the DV Register at the police station, and keep a copy of your PO.

  • Q. What is bail?

    In any court case when a person is arrested, the accused person remains to be presumed not guilty until the court finds such person guilty.  In our law no one may be detained without trial. If an accused is arrested he or she is normally kept in prison or the police cells till the trial is finalised to ensure the presence of the accused at court.

    If the person wishes not to be imprisoned pending the finalisation of the trial, he or she may apply to the court to be released on warning or on warning with some conditions attached or on bail (with or without conditions).  Bail is the sum of money paid to the court or to the police. Bail is granted more readily when the accused is not a flight risk and can easily be found by law enforcement agencies. There is usually bail conditions set by the presiding officer that the accused must comply with.

  • Q. Is granting of bail a reflection of the outcome of the case?

    No, the granting of bail must not be seen to be a reflection of the strength of the State’s case against the accused. Also, bail granted does not imply the acquittal of the accused nor the withdrawal of the case. Even when bail is granted, the accused will still face the charges in a court of law when a trial date is set. Once granted bail it just means that the court is of the view that the accused will stand his/ her trial and is not a flight risk or a danger to the community.

  • Q. When can the accused person apply for bail?

    The accused person can apply at any stage of the court proceedings for bail when he or she is before the court.  Normally after arrest the accused must be brought before a court within 48 hours of arrest and he or she may then apply to be released on warning or bail if the case is not finalised on that day.

  • What is the effect of bail granted?

    By paying bail the accused promises to come to court for future hearings of his or her case and agrees that if he or she does not return, the money paid as bail may be forfeited to the state. In turn for this the accused is then released until the next date(s) that the case is again before court, till the case is finalised.

    When the court case is over, the bail money is paid back even if the accused is found guilty. Bail money will however not be paid back, if the accused does not come to court on the day of their court case, or if they break any of their bail conditions such as if they interfere with any witnesses.  If an accused do not appear at court the bail will be forfeited to the State unless convincing reasons can be provided as to why the person could not be at the court when he or she was supposed to.

  • Q. When asking for bail, of what must the accused convince the judge or magistrate?

    Should the case be remanded, the accused has a right to ask the court to be released on bail instead of being remanded in custody until the case finishes. When asking for bail, the accused must convince the presiding officer that he/she -

    will attend all his court hearings and will not run away

    is not a danger to other people

    will not commit further crimes

    will not intimidate any witness in the case.

  • Q. Do you get a receipt when paying bail?

    On paying bail, one must get a receipt. Only the person with a receipt for the bail will get the money back after the trial.  If released on bail, the accused/defendant will get a written notice. This notice will tell him or her where the court is. It will show the day and the time that he or she must be in court, and it will also show any conditions imposed, for example, that he or she must report every week to the police station.

  • Q. What is the difference between premeditated murder and just murder? Why would the State want to prove pre-meditation?

    Premeditated murder is the kind of murder that has been planned by the accused before execution or commission. The state must prove that the murder was planned based on available evidence.

  • Q. What would be classified as exceptional circumstances when applying for bail for a Schedule 6 charge?

    It is not easy to establish whether a specific fact is exceptional, but one example will be what is the strength of the state’s case.

  • Q. If a charge of premeditated murder stands at bail stage, is a lesser charge possible during the trial? (e.g. manslaughter)

    Bail is mainly determined on hearsay evidence, because at this stage the amount of evidence available is never sufficient. It happens sometimes that when it comes to the trial itself such hearsay evidence does not surface, or a witness does not give supporting affidavits, in which case then the court can always rule that the murder was not planned and therefore convict on a lesser charge.

     

     

     

     

    A case might move from one court to the other, how is that decided?

    Moving a case from one court to depends on the circumstances; for example -

    Whether the court before which the matter is appearing has jurisdiction over the matter

    Whether the presiding officer dealt with the bail application and heard the facts of the case before

    Whether the court has jurisdiction with regard to sentence.

  • Q. Is it usual to have long and protracted bail proceedings?

    The duration of a bail hearing depends on the extent of the charges that the accused is facing or the cross-examination of witnesses. It may also be influenced by the number of accused and/or the number of counts for which the accused is/are charged.

  • Q. What is taken to account and who makes the assessment to determine flight risk probability?

    The court should normally look into-

    whether the accused has a passport,

    whether he has relatives outside the country,

    whether he has the means (funds) to flee etc.

  • What is the longest a bail hearing has taken? Is there a limit to the time it can take?

    It depends on whether the accused or the defence or the prosecution wish to call witnesses and the number of witnesses they intend calling.

  • Q. On what condition can live media broadcasts be barred from the court?

    This will depend on whether the accused will be prejudiced if there is a live broadcast of the proceedings and whether the state feels that it might compromise the investigation. Anyone of the parties can raise an objection, and the court will look into whether it is in the public interest that such proceedings be carried on live broadcasts. The final order is made by the Presiding Officer after consideration of such issues, but not limited to those mentioned above.

  • Q. What are Sexual Crimes (Offences)?

    The Sexual Offences Amendment Act (SOAA) protects any person who has experienced rape, sexual assault, sexual grooming, incest, child pornography or prostitution, etc.

    Read more on Government website

  • Q. What is Rape

    Rape occurs when a person forces another to have sexual intercourse without their consent. This is a crime and must be reported. The SOAA also makes it a crime for a person to force another person to rape someone. This is known as compelled rape.

  • Q. What is Sexual Assault

    Sexual assault occurs when a person sexually violates another person without their consent. This is a crime and must be reported. The SOAA also makes it a crime for a person to force another person to witness and or perform sexual acts to someone. This is known as compelled sexual assault.

  • Q. What is Sexual Grooming

    Sexual grooming occurs when a person educates/ introduces or prepares a child to perform/witness any sexual act or became sexually ready. A child is usually unaware that the person is grooming him/her for sexual acts because this person is often nice to the child. In most instances, after realising the motive of the person, the child is usually scared to speak or report this because the incident could have been taking place over a long period of time. This is a crime and must be reported. The same may also occur with persons living with mentally disabled persons.

  • Q. What is Incest

    Incest occurs when people who are related and are not allowed to marry each other engage in a sexual act with each other even though they both agreed to do so. It is illegal and should be reported.

  • What is Child pornography

    Child pornography occurs when a person or company uses a child for a reward or money for the purpose of publishing pornographic material.

  • Q. What is Child Prostitution

    Child prostitution occurs when a person uses a child or any person living with mental disabilities to expose or display to prostitution or engaging him/ her in sexual acts for a reward.

  • Q. Who can be a victim of rape or sexual crime

    Anyone (women, men, children, babies), irrespective of gender can be a victim of rape and it is not their fault that it happened. The SOAA requires all criminal justice officials (Police, Prosecutors, Magistrates and Court Clerks) to deal with all reported sexual crimes without discriminating against victims because of race, nationality, sex, age, sexual orientation or any other reason. The Department has upgraded various regional courts into sexual offences courtrooms, compliant with the new Sexual Offences Courts Model. Follow this link to view the list of Sexual Offences Courtrooms.

     

    The SOAA recognises that in our communities the majority of victims of sexual offences are children, women and persons living with mental disabilities. It further extends the responsibility to members of the public including government and private institutions to report any form of sexual violence against all vulnerable persons.

  • Dignity and Privacy

    Dignity and Privacy - When you report cases to the police and at a public hospital or clinic. When you report to police, you will be taken to a separate room where you can speak in an office or environment that you are comfortable with.

  • Information

    Information - When you report to a public hospital, you will receive information on procedures required to have the alleged perpetrator be tested for his or her HIV status and right to receive Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).

  • Treatment

    Treatment - The courts will appoint a competent person to act as an intermediary in cases where, a witness under the age of eighteen would suffer undue mental stress if he or she were to testify at such proceedings without the assistance of Intermediary services.

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