Various legislative and policy mechanisms are in place to guide the South African Police Service (“SAPS”) officials and relevant stakeholders in the performance of their duties to offer maximum protection to victims of GBV. Usually, the SAPS will be the first entity to which GBV is reported to and it is important to understand how they can assist apart from opening a criminal case.

Protect from further harm

When an incident of GBV is reported to the SAPS, the relevant SAPS official must determine whether the complainant is in danger and take all the necessary actions to protect the complainant from further harm.


Medical treatment and suitable accommodation

Depending on the nature of GBV, SAPS officials must give such assistance to the complainant that they are reasonably able to give in the circumstances. This may include to assist the complainant to obtain medical treatment and to find suitable accommodation if necessary.


Explain rights, remedies and services

SAPS officials must provide the complainant with a written notice in any official language of the complainant’s choice and ensure that the complainant understands the contents of the notice. In general, this notice will explain the complainant’s rights and remedies, as well as the services to expect from the various role players they may have contact with.


Criminal charges and/or protection orders

If the complainant has suffered some form of violence, it is important that the SAPS official explains to the complainant that s/he has right to lay a criminal charge against the perpetrator and also the right to apply for a protection order. The SAPS official should also ensure that the complainant understands that the lodging of a criminal charge is not a requirement for making an application for a protection order.


Compliance with protection orders

If there is a protection order already in place, the SAPS must ensure that the terms of protection orders are complied with and to respond at once to any notice that the protection order is not complied with. This can include the arrest of the person against whom the protection order was obtained.