Women and Justice: Court: Supreme Court of Appeal (Hoogste hof van Appèl)

Domestic Case Law

Dlanjwa v. Minister of Safety and Security Supreme Court of Appeal (Hoogste hof van Appèl) (2015)


Domestic and intimate partner violence, Property and inheritance rights

The appellant was shot by her husband, who subsequently committed suicide. Her husband was employed by the South African Police Service, so she sued the Minister of Safety and Security for general damages, medical expenses, loss of earnings, and loss of support arising from her injuries and the deceased’s suicide. She also sued for loss of support on behalf of her infant triplets with the deceased. The appellant alleged that the shooting and suicide were caused by, inter alia, the negligence of the station commander and/or certain police officials. The appellant claimed that these police officers failed to (a) dispossess the deceased of the firearm, (b) initiate disciplinary steps against him, and (c) have him criminally charged despite her previous requests and their knowledge that the deceased abused alcohol, had a violent temper and suicidal tendencies, had assaulted her, pointed a firearm at her and threatened to shoot her and thereafter kill himself, which led her to obtain a protection order against him under the Domestic Violence Act 1998. The Supreme Court of Appeal found that: (a) the police had a legal duty to investigate the appellant’s complaints once she reported that she feared for her safety; (b) the police negligently breached that duty by failing to take measures to protect the appellant from being injured by the deceased (and prevent the deceased from killing himself); and (c) the appellant had established wrongfulness on the part of the police due to the causal connection established between the police’s negligent breach of duty and the harm suffered by the appellant. The court therefore upheld the appeal.

Die appèllant is deur haar man geskiet waarna hy selfmoord gepleeg het. Haar man het vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Polisiediens gewerk daarvolgens het sy die Minister van Veiligheid en Sekuriteit gedagvaar vir algemene skadevergoeding, mediese uitgawes, verlies van verdienste, en die verlies van ondersteuning wat voortspruit uit haar beserings en die oorledene se selfmoord. Die appèllant beweer dat die skietery en selfmoord veroorsaak is deur, onder andere, die nalatigheid van die stasiebevelvoerder en/of sekere polisiebeamptes. Die appèllant beweer dat diè polisiebeamptes versuim het om (a) die oorledene se vuurwapen te verwyder, (b) dissiplinêre stappe teen hom te inisieer, en (c) om hom strafregtelik aan te kla ten spyte van haar vorige versoeke en hul kennis dat die oorledene alkohol misbruik het, 'n gewelddadige humeur het en selfmoordneigings gehad het, haar aangerand het, 'n vuurwapen op haar gerig het, en haar gedreig het dat hy haar gaan skiet en daarna selfmoord pleeg, wat daartoe gelei het om 'n beskermingsbevel teen hom onder die Wet op Huishoudelike Geweld van 1998 te verkry. Die Appèlhof het bevind dat: (a) die polisie 'n wettige plig gehad het om die appèllant se klagtes te ondersoek nadat sy berig het dat sy vir haar veiligheid gevrees het; (b) die polisie was nalatig was deur hul plig ter versuiming om maatreëls te tref om die appèllant te beskerm teen die oorledene (en om te verhoed dat die oorledene selfmoord pleeg); en (c) die appèllant het die onregmatigheid aan die kant van die polisie bewys as gevolg van die verband tussen die polisie se nalatige pligssversuim en die skade wat die appèllant gely het. Die hof het die appèl dus goedgekeur.



Naidoo v. Minister of Police Supreme Court of Appeal (Hoogste hof van Appèl) (2015)


Domestic and intimate partner violence

The plaintiff attempted to bring a charge of assault against her former husband under the Domestic Violence Act of 1998 (“the DVA”). She was incorrectly advised by a police officer that she required a protection order from the Magistrate Court before she could receive police assistance. She was then told by a second officer that her former husband would bring a similar charge of assault against her if she persisted. The plaintiff, along with her former husband, was arrested. She filed a claim for damages against, inter alia, the Minister of Police, arguing that (i) the officials involved were acting in the course and within the scope of their employment and (ii) the Minister of Police was vicariously liable for failing to comply with the DVA. The court agreed that the DVA requires the police to assist and provide the maximum protection possible to victims of domestic abuse.

Die eiseres het probeer om 'n klag van aanranding teen haar voormalige man onder die Wet op Huishoudelike Geweld van 1998 ("Die DVA") te bring. 'n Polisiebeampte het haar verkeerdelik aanbeveel dat sy 'n beskermingsbevel van die Landdroshof moes kry voordat sy polisiehulp kon ontvang. 'n Tweede polisiebeampte het vir haar gesê dat haar voormalige man 'n soortgelyke klag van aanranding teen haar sou bring as sy aanhou met haar klagte. Die eiseres, asook haar voormalige man, was gearresteer. Sy het 'n eis vir skadevergoeding teen, onder andere, die Minister van Polisie ingedien en het aangvoer dat (i) die betrokke beamptes volgens en binne die bestek van hul werk opgetree het en (ii) die Minister van Polisie onmiddellik aanspreeklik was vir die versuiming om die DVA te volg. Die hof het saamgestem dat die DVA vereis dat die polisie hulp en die maksimum moontlike beskerming vir slagoffers van huishoudelike mishandeling moet gee.