Domestic Violence


According to the Institute for Securities Studies, South Africa’s response to domestic violence is of relatively recent origin, with 1993 marking both the introduction of the first legal remedy to address domestic violence, and the recognition of marital rape as a crime.

The Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998

The Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998 (the DVA) is the law that deals with domestic violence in South Africa. This law exists to give victims who are experiencing domestic violence the best possible protection that the law can offer. This act is widely considered one of the more progressive examples of such legislation internationally.

What steps to follow when Domestic violence is done?

  1. Gather the evidence.
  2. Seek assistance from your attorney.
  3. Your attorney applies for an interim Protection order.
  4. Your attorney serves the interim protection order in a Magistrates court.
  5. The Magistrates court makes the order final.

Conduct Of Your Attorney

In the light of the social and legal context of domestic violence, your attorney who is representing you over domestic violence cases should behave in the following way:

1. Treat each case seriously, fairly, expeditiously and with sensitivity to the race, class, gender and culture of the parties involved.

2. Treat cases with the appropriate urgency that each case demands.

3. Consider the potential lethality of domestic violence.

4. Fully interrogate and consider each case.

5. Seriously consider the perceived risk to the applicant.

6. Deal with applications for protection orders promptly.

7. Be aware that applicants may make after-hours applications as provided in the Domestic Violence Act.

8. Avoid minimising the abuse or the perceived risk that the applicant believes she/he is in.

9. It is important to note that, should an applicant withdraw either the interim or final protection order, the withdrawal may not be used against the applicant if she/he applies for a subsequent order.

10. In the light of high levels of semi-literacy, the respondent should have a fair opportunity to file an opposing affidavit or to respond to the matter orally in court.

11. As a norm interview the applicant and where necessary lead viva voce evidence from her/him.


For additional information regarding the process of how to get a Protection order in terms of the Domestic Violence Act, 1998 (Act 116 of 1998) click on this link



  1. Institute for Securities Studies – Domestic Violence in South Africa. Nov 2014 Policy brief.
  2. 2008 Guidelines for implementation of the Domestic Violence Act for Magistrates.
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