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Protection order

I would say that at least one third of all my divorce cases involve one spouse applying for an “interim protection order” against the other spouse. Other commonly used terms for this are “interdict” or “restraining order”. They are all the same though and must be applied for at the nearest court to which you reside.

In South Africa there is just so much domestic violence and all that you can really do is apply for a protection order if you think that your soon-to-be-ex may during the course of the divorce proceedings become abusive towards you, your children or anybody else. South Africa is the country in the world with one of the highest crime rates. Recent statistics show that the murder rate has dropped by 2% recently to “just” 49,1 murders a day. It is just so important to protect yourself.

In a recent newspaper article there was the following headline: “Man skiet sy vrou, kinders voor ouma”. It is really shocking to read something like this. The parties were going through a divorce. Mr. Wim Koning (52) was separated from his wife, Rendi (43) and they had had two young children. They all however went on a family outing in the Kruger National Park one day, together with Rendi's mother.

On returning that day the wife dropped Mr. Koning off at his house and went in quickly to fetch a toy which belonged to their one child and which had been left behind when she moved out the home. Just before they drove off something snapped in Mr. Koning. He fetched a 9mm pistol in the house and shot his family in the car. They all died. His mother-in-law survived. He later also killed himself.

In the abovementioned case what is quite bizarre is that Rendi had recently obtained a protection order against Wim. This was however not enough to stop her losing her life with her children. It appears she did all that she could though to protect herself.

I have had cases of men and women abusing and harassing each other so badly that the police have had to be called on several occassions to sort out the problem. The only time they will lock somebody up is if the one party is in breach of a protection order, as that is a valid court order. My one client had his shop window smashed with a brick by his wife, from whom he was separated. He simply had to get a protection order against her to prevent this from re-occuring.

Some people can simply not deal with all the pressures involved in getting divorced. They inevitably end up harassing and abusing their soon-to-be-ex. All that the aggrieved party can really do to protect himself or herself is to get a protection order.

I would estimate that a protection order is effective in about 80% 90% of all cases. The Koning family incident as mentioned above is really an exception. It is quite probable that Mr. Koning may not have been sound of mind when doing what he did.

The power of the Interim Protection Order

A man consulted me once.He had a girlfriend who had obtained an interim protection order against him,which eventually resulted in his being incarcerated for two months for a crime which he never committed,as the saying goes.

In the first place,the application for the interim protection order was not opposed by my client in court.The parties had argued and the lady had applied for an interim protection order on the basis of verbal abuse alone.There were no averments of physical or other abuse on the papers.

The lady had informed my client that she had applied for the order at court,but would not be attending court on the return date,as she would not be proceeding in the matter.In fact on the day when the police served the application on my client,the parties were happily together and even holding hands.Once the application was served on my client,the lady in fact tore up the papers in front of my client without even affording him an opportunity to read them,whilst telling him that she would definitely not be proceeding in the matter.
So,on the return court date my client never attended court,as he was under the impression that his girlfriend would not be attending court to move for the order.Nonetheless, she “blindsided” him,as the saying goes,and obtained the order together with a warrant of arrest in her favour against him.This my client found out after phoning the court to find out what had transpired on the court date.

At this point the man consulted me(it was the only time that I consulted him).I advised him,based on what he had instructed me were the facts of the case,to end his relationship with this lady immediately as she was armed now with a final protection order against him together with a warrant of arrest, which she could use to have him incarcerated.

The client never followed my advice.There was a further argument between the parties after they had continued with the relationship.During the argument the lady had humiliated the man by aassaulting him and shouting at him, in public,whilst he never retaliated.

The lady went to the police that day.That night while the parties were in bed together,the police arrived at the door,and the man was imprisoned for two months for being “in breach of the protection order”, before eventually the case was dismissed due to lack of evidence.

The abovementioned events illustrate how powerful the interim,as well as the final,protection order is.I strongly urge all clients to stay away from a partner/girlfriend/boyfriend/husband or wife who has such an order against them.If they do not follow that advice they could well end up in prison for being in breach of an order when they were in fact innocent.

The protection order is a very dangerous weapon to be armed with.The person armed with such an order has all the power in the world over his/her spouse.In many cases it is best to end a relationship when your partner or spouse has a protection order against you.


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