New family court seeks to reduce domestic violence
President Cyril Ramaphosa has repeatedly expressed his commitment to eradicating our “second pandemic” – gender-based violence, domestic violence and femicide. We recently wrote about the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill, which seeks to strengthen the existing provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, most notably by introducing a domestic violence safety monitoring notice, which will require local police officers to contact or visit a woman at risk at her residence at regular intervals, to ensure her safety. Additionally, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has launched a new family court that seeks to reduce domestic violence issues. Launched during Human Rights month (March), the new court offers “integrated services, including facilities relating to domestic violence, maintenance, the Children’s Court and protection from harassment”, among others. Minister Lamola has indicated that the new court is a “branch court”, focused on specific services. Initially established in Durban, the aim of the court is to eliminate the burden placed on the Durban Magistrate’s Court by domestic violence and maintenance claims. Its services are offered in a more secure and private manner, promoting and maintaining human dignity while ensuring a safe environment for women and children.
Failure to provide child support is domestic violence
Minister Lamola is outspoken about the responsibility of men to support their children. “When my fellow brothers choose to run away from their responsibilities to raise their children, they commit an act of gender-based violence.” Child support and maintenance issues have become a heavily gendered issue in our country. The seriousness of this issue has inspired the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to develop a tool to track absconders of maintenance through a digital footprint. This new facility ensures that maintenance investigations take place more smoothly, ensuring the best interests of the child are served. The Department aims to reinforce the constitutional right entrenched in S28 of the Constitution. “Through this reliance on technology, we aid the support of custodial mothers in particular,” said Mr Lamola.
Responding to gender-based violence
These efforts are an indication the justice system’s intention to respond effectively to gender-based violence. Victims of GBV or domestic violence can now apply for protection orders online. The establishment of this court, a first of its kind in South Africa, shows a shift towards gender-sensitive courts that support the implementation of gender budgeting, placing the needs and concerns of South African women at its core. A more comprehensive version of this branch court will soon be rolled out throughout the country.
We’re here to help
If you’ve been affected by domestic violence, Cape Town law firm SD Law can help. We will connect you to relevant support services and make sure you and your children are safe. At SD Law, we understand how deeply distressing gender-based violence can be, and we will handle your case with discretion, empathy and compassion. We can also help with maintenance claims, whether interim (Rule 43) or final. Contact attorney Simon Dippenaar on 086 099 5146 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential discussion.
- Domestic Violence Amendment Bill
- Tackling gender-based violence – the “second pandemic”
- South African Court awards maintenance and legal costs to abused wife in a Rule 43