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Protection from Harassment Act, 2011 (Act 17 of 2011)

HarassmentThe Protection from Harassment Act (Act 17 of 2011) came into effect on 27th April 2013 to address harassment and stalking behaviours which violate Constitutional provisions of right to privacy and dignity of individual persons. 

The Act provides for inexpensive civil remedy to protect a person from behaviour which may not constitute a crime but may impact negatively on various rights of an individual.

The Act was promoted because the existing civil law framework and criminal law framework do not provide adequate recourse to victims of harassment who are not in a domestic relationship (the Domestic Violence Act, 1998 (Act 116 of 1998),

The Act aims to provide a remedy in the form of a protection which would prohibit aperson from harassing another person. If the harasser breaches a protection order he or she commits an offence which is punishable with a fine or a period of imprisonment. It aims to address harassing behavior by means of a court order, in terms of which the harasser is prohibited from continuing with the act of harassment.

Any person who contravenes such an order is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years. The Act provides recourse for victims of harassment and stalking in both domestic non-domestic relationships. It also broadens the categories of harassment to include bullying at schools and cyber-stalking.

What is harassment?
Harassment under the Act includes both direct and indirect conduct that either causes harm or that inspires the person complaining of harassment (“the complainant”) to reasonably believe that harm may be caused. Such conduct includes following, watching, pursuing or accosting of the complainant or someone in a close relationship with the complainant such as a spouse or family member.

Harassment also includes contact through verbal communication aimed at the complainant. The Act also recognises electronic communication that causes harm or makes the complainant feel in danger of being harmed as harassment.

The Act mentions several forms of written communication as capable of being contact for the purposes of harassment, such as letters, packages and e-mails.

It also includes sexual harassment, which means “any unwelcome sexual attention from a person who knows or who reasonably knows that such attention is unwelcome”. Such sexual attention includes unwelcome behaviour, suggestions, messages or remarks of a sexual nature that have the effect of “offending, intimidating or humiliating” the complainant or a person who has a close relationship with the complainant.

Persons who the Act seeks to protect

Procedures for applying a protection order


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View Act [2.05mb]/ Regulations & Directive [3.48mb] / Contact list for ECNS licensees and ISPs [177kb, amended 20/05/2019]

Enquiries can be directed to your nearest Magistrate Court.