A protection order aims at preventing the reoccurrence of domestic violence or sexual harassment by stating what conduct the alleged offender must refrain from doing. As long as he/she complies with the protection order, the complainant will be safe. If the respondent contravenes any stipulation of the protection order, he/she may be arrested. Once a protection order is granted, it is enforceable throughout the country.
If a protection order has been obtained, the respondent cannot prevent the victim or a child who usually lives at the shared residence, from entering or remaining in the shared residence or any part of it.
When applying for a protection order, the complainant may request for the removal of the respondent’s firearm or other dangerous weapon. If the Magistrate orders the police to remove the firearm, the police will keep the firearm until the case has been finalized. The firearm can only be returned to the respondent by order of the court, and the court may add conditions. The court may also order the State to keep the firearm if it is in the best interest of the victim’s safety.
It is important to remember that criminal charges may be laid in cases where acts of domestic violence/sexual harassment constitute an offence, such as assault or rape. It does not mean that one must first exhaust the remedies available under the protection order before laying the criminal charges, if this offence was committed. One can register the criminal charge with or without a protection order.
The court may order a police officer to accompany a complainant to retrieve his/her property from a specified place to ensure the safety of the complainant.
Important: If one disobeys the protection order, it must be reported to the police immediately with the copy of the protection order so that the respondent can be arrested and be brought before court. Only the Magistrate may release the arrested person as the Magistrate issues the warrant.
Source: South African Police Service March 2019.
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