The reality is, each of us at some stage of our lives has been subjected to harassment in some form, whether directly or indirectly, and when it happens, it can be difficult to resolve.
The Protection from Harassment Act is a law that provides victims of harassment with a way to protect their rights against harassment. It introduces procedures that help the courts and the police to protect the rights of victims of harassment.
In terms of the Act, “harassment” means directly or indirectly engaging in conduct that the respondent knows or ought to know— (a) causes harm or inspires the reasonable belief that harm may be caused to the complainant or a related person by unreasonably—(i) following, watching, pursuing or accosting of the complainant or a related person, or loitering outside of or near the building or place where the complainant or a related person resides, works, carries on business, studies or happens to be; (ii) engaging in verbal, electronic or any other communication aimed at the complainant or a related person, by any means, whether or not conversation ensues; or (iii) sending, delivering or causing the delivery of letters, telegrams, packages, facsimiles, electronic mail or other objects to the complainant or a related person or leaving them where they will be found by, given to, or brought to the attention of, the complainant or a related person; or (b) amounts to sexual.”
Any person can apply for a protection order in terms of the Protection from Harassment Act if they are experiencing harassment. A person can also apply for a protection order on behalf of someone else who is the victim of harassment. If you are applying for a protection order on behalf of someone else, you must have the person’s written permission. You will not need the person’s written permission if the person that you are applying for is a child or if you can show that the person is not able to provide written permission.
Of importance is that applicants should avoid misusing the protection afforded in terms of the Act to advance personal vendettas or attempting to intimidate a respondent by making superfluous allegations as this may result in the applicant being faced with a cost order.
Author – Jessica Gooding