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Challenges Women Face re GBV and Domestic Violence in South Africa


Gender Based Violence (GBV), specifically against us women, is a violation of our  personal human rights with rippling effects on our families, communities, societies,  economy, the wellness of our nations, and the future of generations to come. 

In South Africa alone, over 60% of our women experience physical abuse.  

“When you beat our woman, you beat our nation,” President Cyril Ramaphosa  declared during Women’s Month this August 2020. 

Pandemic of Gender Based and Domestic Violence 

During a time when we are fighting for our lives against COVID-19 pandemic, we find  ourselves confronting yet another and even more present dangerous pandemic, that  of gender based and domestic violence, which has risen exponentially during  lockdown, not only on our African continent but world wide!

Millions of us women are abused, traumatized, and our very foundations shaken, as  we reel from domestic abuse wondering what to do, who to seek help from, where to  go, how to be safe, and always asking ourselves one question:  


Because no justice no peace, and for this reason we must get the vile hands of our  violent men off our maternal necks. 

Shock of Being Violated 

The experience of being assaulted or abused is itself like a major earthquake, a  devastating shock to our very being. But the aftershocks hurt us even more, namely  the shocks from being repeatedly victimized by people we thought we could rely on  for support and protection, in particular our country’s system we seek justice through.  

Let The Truth Be Told 

A violated woman seeking justice within the legal and judicial systems should be  prepared to face an upward battle and many challenges. 

As if gender based violence and domestic abuse itself is not enough, why do we  have to continue to suffer while we try to protect ourselves and those in our  care?  

Abused by the System, Injustice Wins! 

As long as corruption, incompetence, lack of compassion, lack of commitment to do  the right thing, insensitivity, bullying, organized crime, and discrimination within the  system and its web prevails, injustice will win. 

Do we, with our beaten bodies, trodden on emotions and kicked at minds,  cower, submit and bow down to the men who have attacked, demeaned and  persecuted us?

Or do we take a stand against crime and injustice, because our female lives  matter? 
  • We stand up! 
  • We rise, because we are Mothers of our nation. 
  • We empower ourselves, because we are Women of vision. 
  • We stand together, because we are Females of compassion. 

We stand up, so no women, child or elder is ever again violated in our country. Getting Started on Our Journey to Stand tall 

Let’s embark on our journey to justice and reshaping the future of our country, even  as we struggle to heal physically, mentally and emotionally, and deal with the  situation at home where we have to face the assailant who roams around free every  day. 


Every step of the way, from the moment we make an internal decision to seek  protection and justice, we will be faced with enormous challenges.  

Safe Place Of Shelter 

Your first mode of action is to get out of the dangerous situation you and those under  your care find yourselves in. Lock yourself in your home away from danger, or if the  man lives with you, then get out. 

Please equip yourself with the WIIN hotline, phone numbers and places of shelter  you can contact and escape to. 

Will the Police To Come To My Assistance? 

The next step is reporting the crime. We’ve watched movies where the notable 911  call for help is made in USA. We’ve watched in awe at the speed at which the police  appear on the scene. 

When the Police Arrives In Africa

But in a developing country, especially during lockdown when you call your local  police station, the scene is played in slow motion, really slow motion. 

You’d be better off calling 10111 

10111 is a better bet. When SAPs do arrive, be prepared for a lack of compassion  and no sense of urgency. The movie will play out in reverse motion, if you are a  woman of colour and the male perpetrator is of white privilege. 


A white man, no matter his age or financial status, who assaults a woman of colour,  as was my case, automatically and with impunity is put on a pedestal, and sheltered  from the justice system. 

Ladder of Justice 

Know this, if the “justice ladder” along the way from SAPs arriving at your door, or  listening to your story at the police station, to the lawyers and magistrates and  prosecutors, is staffed with people of integrity, honour and loyalty to do the right thing  and protect you, then gender based and domestic violence would have been a thing  of the past! 

But here we are today! 

Our Failed Legal Justice System 

But sadly the roadmap to justice is filled with deep holes, making your hope for  justice much more difficult. 

Women Get Onto A Steep Learning Curve 

What you need to do is ensure you clamber out of that dark hole, and quickly get  onto a steep learning curve. Arm yourself with knowledge, an empowered support  system and unending inner strength.


Medico-Legal J88 Form 

If you’re lucky enough to have a competent compassionate female police officer be  the first one to talk to you, as was in my case, and if she sees your injuries, she’ll  issue you with a medico-legal form a J88 and advise you to go to your doctor and be  examined. 

“The J88 is a legal document that is completed by a medical doctor,  documenting injuries sustained by a victim in any circumstance where a legal  investigation is to follow. It may be the only objective information available in a  legal case. It may be integral in: The charge itself.” 

The medico-legal form might end up being your only real evidence against the  perpetrator. Get examined as soon as possible, and make a copy of the form. Don’t  trust the police officer or detective promising to make a copy for you! Because there  may be corruption and bribery afoot! 

POLICE RELUCTANT TO TAKE STATEMENT /OPEN CHARGE The police may not regard your situation as serious enough or worthy enough of  their time to interview you thoroughly. This happens especially if the officer does not  want to spend his/her time writing a report thereafter, or himself has an issue with  women! 

SAPs may not even tell you that you have an option to lay a charge, as was in my  case. 

If the assailant has fled the scene, the police may not pursue him, as happened to  me. 

We’ll come back when he returns to his house.” 

Don’t take for granted everything the police tells you. For instance, “No need to give  us a statement now, or open a charge, we’ll wait until he gets back to his house.”

The police won’t come back to you, unless you contact them again and again for the  rest of the day and even for days! 

At the same time, they will begin to mock you within the police precinct making you  into a laughing stock because of the number of times you called them for help. 

For some reason, SAPs don’t take domestic violence seriously, unless you are dead!

Providing a Police Statement to open a charge 

When the police finally sit down with you and start putting pen to paper as you tell  them what happened, they will be distracted by their phones more than several  times. 

It means that your and their line of thoughts will be disrupted. When you are injured,  physically in pain, and traumatized mentally and emotionally from the assault, you  will have to stay focused on ensuring that statement is correctly taken down. 

The warrant officer will be rushed to get the statement over with, and as it will most  likely be your first time at all of this, you rely on the officer to guide you through so  everything that needs to be said is said and penned into the statement. 

Sadly, I didn’t realize my gullibility until in hindsight!

Before you sign the statement, be sure to take the time to read it a few times, before  you sign. And if the officer tells you not to worry, he will write the “other details on the  other form, later,” please don’t take his word for it. 

There is no other form…I fell into his trap! 

And if someone else in your house witnessed the assault, be sure the officer takes  his/her statement, even if he says there is no need! Yet another trap I fell into. 

Finally the officer will tell you that he will submit his written document to the police  station, for someone to input it into a charge docket, and that you will be notified  when the case is opened, and you will be told who the detective for your case will be. 

And so the waiting game begins. 

WHEN FAMILY MEMBER OR TRUSTED FRIEND TURNS AGAINST YOU? In the meanwhile, what if your family member or a trusted friend turns against you,  because you’ve decided to file charges against your attacker/abuser?

Perhaps he/she feels that you will bring shame to the family name by washing dirty  linen in public! 

Be prepared for arguments if people around you view you as the “less  knowledgeable weaker gender.” 

Emotional battles with relatives and friends can drain you. You’d be wise to surround  yourself with people who don’t demean you even more. 

Charge Docket Opened Detective Assigned 

You’ll receive notification when your case has been assigned a number and a  detective. Take note of that number. 

The role of the detective is to investigate the case thoroughly, gather evidence,  uncover the truth, and interview everyone involved. But this happens only if he/she is  competent and committed to the justice system. 

The detective if good, can discern between a false witness and an actual witness,  but sadly most detectives want to complete the task at hand, rather than do justice to it with the best of their ability. 

Ensure that the detective has every piece of evidence that you submitted or will  submit for the case. He should submit the completed charge docket with the  evidence to the prosecutor. But be warned, detectives can be bribed, and your  original evidence can disappear. 


If there are gaps in the investigation, the prosecutor will request the detective to  gather the information. Finally the prosecutor makes a decision if the case will  proceed to court. No dishonest person is above corruption or bribery! Pray that your  prosecutor lives with integrity and serves justice. 

Your life is in the hands of the detective and the prosecutor. If either fails to uncover  the truth and ensure justice is served, the perpetrator will remain at large. 

If the prosecutor decides against the case, you have the right to know on what  grounds, and to receive a report of the decision. You have the option to appeal the  decision. 

You are unprotected and financially strained

If SAPS has not already arrested the perpetrator, they may tell you to apply for a  protection order while the charge is being investigated. 


It’s all new to you, and as you wait in long social distance lines outside the court, you  pray for justice. But don’t rely on the court clerks to help you in completing the  application for protection order. They are not trained to do so. 

Take the form home and complete it while you are thinking clearly. Be sure to add  the names of children or people in your household to be protected under the  protection order. 

Include videos, photos, and any piece of evidence you have to verify that the assault  or violence occurred or is occurring. Be sure to check that the clerk has filed the  application form together with the evidence. 


The magistrate makes a decision whether to reject the application, provide an interim  protection order while the final order is being investigated, or provide an court  interdict requesting the perpetrator tell the court why the order not be granted. 

Don’t be surprised when the perpetrator pulls out every possible bullying and  persecution tactics, false witnesses, and community support to discredit, defame and  shame you into dropping the protection order. 


Finally when the court hearing dawns, and you find yourself lawyerless facing the  opposition, don’t be surprised when the magistrate entertains the perpetrators hot shot lawyer’s false affidavits, untruths and tactics to dismiss the protection order.  

Don’t be surprised when you are ridiculed and humiliated by the opposition lawyer  and the magistrate, in front of the perpetrator!  

Most of all don’t be surprised when the magistrate does not watch the videos or  photos you submitted or viewed the medico-legal reports! 

Finally don’t be surprised when the magistrate drags on the hearing for protection  order into many court appearances for months on end at your expense, while your  life and those ones under your care remain at risk. 

These are the harsh realities of the weak, inefficient systems we have to contend  with in South Africa.


According to the law, you are allowed to apply for a protection order without a lawyer  and without a charge case. 

Sadly, when the magistrate sees you on your own, beside the perpetrators hot-shot  lawyer, you will be made invisible and voiceless. His lawyer will prevail in a  magnificent performance qualifying for an Emmy award! 

What you will see unfold in the courtroom will be a drama movie in the making, with  legal rhetoric being bandied left and right, half of which you cannot understand, the  other half of which you are not allowed to defend while you are branded into the  aggressor! 


Lawyers will creep out of the cracks to assist you, pretending to be pro-bono or legal  aid, taking advantage of your desperation. 

Be suspicious of your lawyer,  

  • if he doesn’t talk about the cost of hiring him,  
  • doesn’t set up a consultation,  
  • doesn’t ask for and review every piece of evidence, 
  • doesn’t have the time to talk to you,  
  • talks to you in a demeaning manner,  
  • reprimands you if you ask questions,  
  • threatens to stop representing you if you don’t agree to him dragging out the  hearings,  
  • after the court hearing, suddenly hits you with a bill while making you believe  he was legal aid, 
  • or ultimately if you suspect him of working to lose your case. 
Legal Aid 

Apply for legal aid if you fit the requirements of earning less than R8000 a month,  and not owning property. If you are blessed with a competent and committed activist lawyer, your chances of getting the protection order are very strong.  

Learn more about the situation as you wait. 


Living in your same home within the same violent environment and community will  be no easy task. When the perpetrator lives in the same household or nearby, your  life will be turned inside out, while you wait for the prosecutor to make a decision 

about the charge case, and the magistrate to protect you with a protection order in  the interim! 

Bribery and Corruption  

The perpetrator will engage in horrible strategies and tactics to paint the picture that  he is the poor victim and that you are an evil, malicious, conniving, shameful,  irreligious woman who has a personal vendetta against him.  

If he has powerful connections in the community, he will turn them against you, and  you will be victimized at every turn. 

Community Gangs Up Against You to Protect the  Perpetrator 

If the perpetrator is well liked in your community, the community leaders will be  highly organized to protect him at your expense. They will be able to stop the police  from entering the community to come to your aid! As was in my case. 

Police Side with Perpetrator 

Powerful men have deep insider connections within the police.  

  • Be warned when unmarked police vehicles appear when you are assaulted!  ∙ Be aware when the “police” threaten to arrest you if you call the police station  again!  
  • Be careful when the “police” shout at you to “mind your own business and  stay locked in your house/room!” 
  • Be especially conscious when the police smile, while the perpetrator’s  accomplices and friends gather in front of the police and shout to you, “Stop  wasting the polices’ time, they can’t do anything to us.” 
  • Be prepared for challenges when the group continue shouting, “We have the  best lawyers in the country, you cannot win against us.” 


When you, a woman of colour call SAPs to investigate domestic violence perpetrated  by a white man against you, and they refuse to come, or cut the call you know there  will be challenges in pursuing justice.

When you sit down your exhausted, injured black or brown body in the courtroom  alone, lawyerless, facing the white perpetrator and his hot-shot white lawyer, even  with a non-white magistrate, be prepared for racism focused on setting the  perpetrator free! The white man continues to be worshipped and submitted to even  by tokens in high places! 

Sadly, 26 years post apartheid in our beloved South Africa, the white man rules  behind the scenes of everything, from the economy to legal and justice systems.  You’ll see this evidenced when he violates a Black, Indian or Coloured person in our  country, and more so when the victim is a women of colour! 


Given all the challenges we need to be prepared to face when we are victims of  gender based or domestic violence, we should motivate ourselves to learn how to  seek and get justice, protect ourselves, regain our footing, uplift our quality of life,  prosper in the future, and help support and empower our sisters in doing the same.  

Our ultimate goal should be to eradicate violence against girls and women within our  families, communities, societies and country. Only we want to do so, and only we  can lead the way to accomplish this essential vision.  

Dear reader, this blog article is only an overview of some of the many issues we face as women violated by our men. There are so many more issues if you have children  under your care, seeking a divorce with custody, or a single parent….I’ve provided  my personal challenges as a single women protecting an elder in my family. 

Your situation may be different. 

Let’s go further and through the chat and comments engage in a discussion about  the challenges you are facing in your journey for protection and justice and how we  can together have justice served on the men who violate us as shamelessly together  with their neighbourhood friends, and as their accomplices in the legal and justice  systems drag the future of our country down.  

Please peruse the many resources available on our site which are there for you, and  please know you are not alone. 

We eagerly await your comments and discussions.