| Feb 22, 2023
Breathing a Sigh of Relief
LvA's mission is to ensure meaningful access to justice for victims of gender-based violence by providing legal services and psychosocial support, empowering communities and engaging state actors. Rarely is this process straightforward and is often, instead, filled with highs and lows for each of our clients. One such story was that of Mrs Moloi*, who LvA journeyed with over a two-year period before finally securing justice on her behalf.
In February 2021, Mrs Moloi* was referred to LvA by nurses from Stretford Clinic for assistance with her criminal case after being assaulted by her 19-year-old son. He is a drug addict who steals from her home on a regular basis to support his habit. He has repeatedly assaulted her and threatened to stab her with a knife. She has filed several criminal charges against him, including theft and assault. However, she described each of these attempts as "pointless" because he would be arrested and then released back to her care after a few days. This has been the ongoing cycle since 2018. Her attempts to apply for a protection order had proven to be just as futile. Her most recent attempt being in January 2021. At the time she was referred to LvA, the interim protection order had yet to be served on her son. Despite calling the Orange Farm SAPS for help on several occasions, no vehicles had been dispatched to come to her aid. Shortly after her consult with LvA, Mrs Moloi’s son threatened her with violence once more. Again, she called the police. And yet again, no vehicle was sent to her home to assist her.
LvA contacted the Investigating Officer (IO) assigned to her most recent criminal case to request that the police intervene. The IO responded that he couldn't act without a warrant of arrest, and that the court would only issue one after Mrs Moloi's son was served with the interim protection order. LvA then escalated the matter to a senior police official who instructed that a vehicle be dispatched to assist with service. Although Mrs Moloi and LvA's legal officer had to wait at the police station for an hour before a vehicle was made available, the interim protection order was successfully served on her son thanks to LvA's intervention.
The next step was for Mrs Moloi to travel to Vereeniging Magistrate’s court to retrieve the warrant of arrest. However, the domestic violence court clerk was dismissive of Mrs Moloi’s request for help and informed her that she could not apply for a warrant of arrest with an interim protection order, which was incorrect. Mrs Moloi called our office in tears to say that the court staff refused to assist her. LvA’s legal officer contacted the Court Manager, responsible for supervising the court clerks, and alerted him to the clerk’s refusal to carry out his duties under the Domestic Violence Act. It was after this phone call that Mrs Moloi was issued with the warrant of arrest. In addition, LvA submitted a misconduct report to the Department of Justice outlining the clerk’s behaviour. A few weeks after the incident occurred, LvA received news that the clerk had been removed from the Domestic Violence court. LvA later assisted in ensuring that the perpetrator was arrested. In December 2021, the perpetrator pled guilty to two counts of assault GBH and theft. However, he received a wholly suspended sentence from the court and thus did not serve any time in prison.
In January 2022, Mrs Moloi informed LvA that the perpetrator had assaulted her once again and that she had opened another criminal case against him. She told us that she had informed the IO assigned to the case that her son had been convicted of a similar charge against her last year and had been given a suspended sentence. LvA wrote a letter opposing bail, which was entered into the docket and used during the proceedings. The perpetrator was denied bail and remained incarcerated throughout the trial. Over the next several months, LvA continued to provide the client with ongoing support in her criminal case. At last, in September 2022, her son was convicted and sentenced to serve a term of five years in prison. After assisting the client for almost two years, LvA shared in the client’s joy knowing that she could finally live in peace.