New Harassment Act to Tackle Abuse Via Sms and Social Media


By Ntokozo Sindane    28-Apr-2013 21:48 UTC+02:00
The Protection from Harassment Act was introduced on Freedom Day and will protect the public from harassment by bullies including cyber stalkers. – image - www.previewnetworks.com

The Protection from Harassment Act was introduced on Freedom Day and will protect the public from harassment by bullies including cyber stalkers. – image – www.previewnetworks.com

South Africans had a lot more to celebrate on Freedom Day when the Protection from Harassment Act became effective. For a long time, South Africans from all walks of life battled with behaviour that violated their rights but was not considered criminal and therefore could not be punished by law.

The Protection from Harassment Act makes it possible for anyone who feels harassed to approach the court without a legal representative and apply for a protection order. Under the act, harassment is not limited to physical and verbal abuse. People who receive threats or unwanted attention via social media and text messages may also apply for a protection order. Those found guilty will have to pay a fine or spend as much as 5 years in jail.

The public reaction on social networks has been positive. Many feel that the simple process will make it easy to report and trace offenders. SABC News reported that the authorities are pleased with the act because protection will be available to people who cannot afford the exorbitant fees charged by lawyers for representation in harassment cases.

Social network subscribers can also breathe a sigh of relief. Previously, subscribers had to tolerate unwanted direct and inbox messages or block offending accounts. Blocking offenders is a useless exercise as offenders simply open a new account and launch a new attack.

Sms’s will also come under scrutiny if complaints are received. The Protection from Harassment Act requires network service providers to cooperate with lawful investigations and provide the personal details of offenders. This includes all the information provided by a user when registering a SIM card as required by RICA.

South Africans hope that bullies will now think twice before sending threats, sexually offensive and other abusive material. All a complainant has to do is walk into a Magistrate’s court with a username and telephone number, and the long arm of the law will be extended to effectively and swiftly deal with the offender.


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  1. Nick Edwards says:

    If the law can’t successfully prosecute offenders who physically abuse others, where will they find the manpower and funds to go after the verbal abusers?
    It is a fantastic concept IF it can be enforced.
    Only time will tell.

  2. marietjie viljoen says:

    I AM ALSO N VICTOM OFF HARRASMENT VIA FACEBOOK AND MESAGES OF FACEBOOK
    I aM. ON 24 H OXYGEN. AN TERMINALLY SICk NOW THERE IS N GROUP ON FACEBOOK. AND ALSO PEOPLE USING THE GROUP FOR ADVERTISING THEIR REBORN DOLLS. THE OWNER OF 2 GROUP PAGES HARRASING ME DAILY IF I DONT DO WHAT SHE WHANT AND ALSO PEOPLE SHE IS FRIENS WITI AM SICK OF THIS. they calling me a oxygen thief and this is hurting me a lot and telling not the truth about some client iam do bussiness with buying my reborn dolls she is making trouble on facebook and i am losing my clients
    can u please help me
    marietjie

  3. joy says:

    My husbands ex is always sending me insults on my fone i tried 2 have a protection order against her bt the lady at protea magistrate court refused n said i must go to westgate and open the case there…i need this lady stopped before i take matters into my hands…

  4. la christians says:

    My ex bf wants to take me to court over something that was said accidentally by me over social network. What will happen to me if I get taken to court?

  5. shaleen sooknunan says:

    My ex will not leave me alone , he threatens to kill me and messages my family as well they are all being harassed but the cops don’t really take this seriously until someone really gets hurt…. is there no way that I could get some other help
    this is urgent as its going a bit too far with people watching me.

  6. Nozuko says:

    I am also a victim my x is sending me mesages threatening to kill me she even sent this message to my partner… ”congratulations for stealing my partner frm me but one thing u must no im planning to take my x’s life because of you,we both going 2 loose my dear i promise.” there are lots of them i am afraid of what she can do and she have friends who say they were police officers they are not afraid of going to jail

  7. thuledu says:

    This other women is sending threatning smses on my my phone.problem is some simcards dont need to be ragistered they just work on the phone.will it be possible to trace that person coz she take the sim away after sending insulting smses?

  8. Ronnie says:

    I received a threats smses and reported the matter to SAPS. The investigator told me that is imposseble to trace the cellphone treats without a suspect as some of the sim card are not registered.

    i want to know if i use two different sim card to one device and one sim is registered on my name and the other one is not register i just swap sim card to to send sms. the device it self cant show incase the use swap the sim if i have the number of the person i suspect that he is the one sending me the treats.

  9. Chris Pinkerton says:

    I have been sms’d more than 100 times in Decrmber by Vodacom this has led to my limit being exceeded and I was not able to receive SMS messages connected to my business alarm. I contacted Vodacom and they say they cannot block these even though it is being sent by them.
    I cancelled my holiday as I was not able to be in control of my security system

    “Please Call +27795256331
    (AD) Soccer fan? Join Vodacom Soccer! Download “

  10. anonyous says:

    Ive been raped in mysleep for yeats byy him, supported him financially after he let his family take all we had. Lft to the street to sll myself to support him. Kicked hi out threats, death threats over 1300 sick emails i was sent. He improvises to be other people to find out where i am. I cant get leal aid even i have protection and divorce papers which sherris tellme cant be served. I live everyday on the run innfear of y lif. Where do i tur to?

  11. Lennie says:

    I want to know if someone issulting me over the phone and I have proof of that can I lay charges?

  12. mbalenhle says:

    I was raped by someone stay nxt to my house on saturday nyt. He ask me to go out wth him thn whn we came back he ddnt want to drop me at home he took me to his place. Whn we got there he started smoking drugs then he forsed to sleep wth. He promised tht he wil beat me up. Thn he raped me wthout even using a condom im scared dnt knw wht to do
    I need help.

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