Harassment and your legal rights.

Individuals often find themselves in a position where they are being harassed and in need of legal assistance to help remedy the situation.

This article takes a more in-depth look at harassment and the legal rights of individuals that are being pestered in this manner. It also looks at the process of obtaining a protection order.

What is harassment?

Harassment occurs when a person behaves in a manner that instils fear in another person, be it a fear of mental, psychological, physical, or economic harm.

What behaviour is classified as harassment?

There are many behaviours that can be classified as harassment. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Verbal harassment
  • Anonymous text messages or emails
  • Continual unwanted messages
  • Sexual acts and/or comments made in the workplace or in a social environment
  • Physical violence

In accordance with the Protection from Harassment Act, a person needs to prove that an event occurred during which he/she was harassed. It is therefore extremely important to be able to identify the exact type of harassment experienced.

What is the most prominent form of harassment?

Gender-based violence (GBV) is the most prominent form of harassment in South Africa and takes the form of sexual violence, physical violence, emotional violence and psychological violence.

For example, in the case of V v V in the Kwazulu-Natal High Court, the respondent approached the Magistrate’s Court for an interim protection order against the appellant who was her husband.

In her application, she highlighted the abuse she experienced, including physical, mental and emotional abuse.

Physical abuse as envisaged in the Act is interpreted as follows: “physical abuse means any act or threatened act of physical violence towards a complainant.”

And “emotional, verbal and psychological abuse means a pattern of degrading or humiliating conduct towards a complainant, including:

  • repeated insults, ridicule or name calling;
  • repeated threats to cause emotional pain; or
  • the repeated exhibition of obsessive possessiveness or jealousy, such that it constitutes a serious invasion of the complainant’s privacy, liberty, integrity or security.”

The court found the Respondent guilty because the above requirements were met.

What can be done when harassed?

The process of obtaining a protection or harassment order against someone can be an exhausting process.

However, having an attorney by your side to handle the process can bring great peace of mind and should be one of the first port of calls when being pestered.

What proof is required to be successful with a protection order?

The Complainant needs to prove that domestic violence (including physical, sexual, financial, and emotional abuse) or any form of harassment has occurred.

In respect of domestic violence, a pattern of events needs to be proven to be successful. With any other form of harassment, a single event can suffice.

What happens when the perpetrator breaches the protection order?

The order comes with prohibitory conditions. Where the perpetrator breaches an order a warrant of arrest will be issued, and the person arrested.

What will it cost to consult Faure & Faure’s legal team?

The first consultation costs between R650 and R750 per hour. Normally, our legal team will spend between 8 and 12 hours on such a case.

Although each case is different and fees vary depending on the amount of time required, the total cost can be anything between R3 000 and R 6 000 or more in some cases.

Article written by Unathi Mpikwa, candidate attorney at Faure & Faure Inc. For more information, contact 021 871 1200 or email contact@faurefaure.co.za

Faure & Faure Inc. – Your partner in Law in the Paarl in Boland Area.

The content on this website is purely for educational purposes. It contains general information about legal matters that should net be regarded as legal advice. Contact your Attorney for case specific legal guidance.