Scenario : You or your loved ones are receiving unwanted attention (harassment) from a work colleague, ex-partner, bully or a secret admirer and you’re not sure what to do.
Having knowledge of the following is essential:
1. What is harassment?
Harassment is any direct or indirect conduct that the perpetrator knows, or ought to know, will cause mental, psychological, physical or economic harm or inspires the reasonable belief on the part of the complainant that harm will be caused to that person or any member of the family or household of the complainant or any other person in a close relationship with the complainant. Bullying (including cyber bullying) is a form of harassment.
2. What is a protection order?
A protection order is a court order granted by a court prohibiting the perpetrator from engaging in or attempting to engage in harassment or enlisting the help of another person to do so.
3. How serious must the harassment be in order to apply for a protection order?
Although the Act does not specify how serious the conduct must be in order to apply for a protection order, as a general rule South African courts will not concern themselves with minor or frivolous matters. The court will only issue a protection order if the perpetrator’s behavior is unreasonable.
If a person (victim) acts frivolously, maliciously or unreasonably when applying for a protection order, the court may order that, that person (victim) be responsible for the other parties legal costs.
4. Who may apply for a protection order?
Any affected person who is the victim of harassment may approach the court for a protection order.
5. Against whom can protection orders be granted?
You can obtain a protection order against any person who perpetrates harassment even if the perpetrator is a child (i.e. a person under the age of 18) who is old enough to appreciate the consequences of his/her actions and who knew or ought to have known that the conduct was harmful.
6. What if I don’t know who is harassing me?
If you do not know the identity of the person harassing you, you may still apply for a protection order. If the court is satisfied that you are being harassed it may issue a directive directing the South African police to investigate the matter and identify the perpetrator.
7. Must I suffer harm before I can apply for a protection order?
No. You may apply for a protection order if you fear that you may be harmed (mentally, psychologically, physically or economically) in future. Your fear that you may suffer harm in future must be reasonable in order for the court to issue an order.
If you are receiving unwanted attention as referred to above or in any other way we urge to approach an Attorney to seek the relevant legal advice. Rather be safe than sorry.
Article contributed By Juan Vorster of Tuckers Inc.