SEXUAL HARASSMENT UNDER THE MISTLETOE
– Ané Kotzé
It’s that time of the year again – the time for secret Santa presents, office parties and Christmas dinners. There is no doubt that it is a very exciting time of the year (it’s just a shame that some forms of excitement are unwanted). So if your co-worker, boss, uncle or unwanted guest had something different in mind for a secret Santa present, this article is for you.
Sexual harassment has recently become a hot topic and has taken the news by storm, especially through women taking action and admitting to being victims to sexual harassment and assault through the #metoo campaign.
The campaign not only had remarkable feedback but also created awareness to such an extent that a number of people realized that they were actually, unknowingly, victims of sexual harassment and that they actually have a leg to stand on to fight back.
If you are therefore unsure as to what you can do to take a stand, or if the recent events inspired you to take a stand on behalf of someone you know that is being sexually harassed, this article will give you some insight as to what to do and what you can expect from this brave fight.
It is important to note that sexual harassment takes on various forms and can be both direct and indirect and occur within the workplace and outside of it.
In terms of the Protection from Harassment Act, sexual harassment is defined as “any unwelcome sexual attention from a person who knows or who reasonably knows that such attention is unwelcome”. Is saying “stop” then an indication that the sexual attention is unwelcome? Definitely.
The question however arises – what is sexual attention exactly? Sexual attention can include sexual innuendos, messages (either through e-mail, Whatsapp, or any other form of social media), any unwelcome behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature that are “offensive, intimidating or degrading” to the complainant or any person in close relationship with the complainant.
So what is the process and what can you expect?
The Magistrate’s Court is easily accessible as the Protection from Harassment Act makes way for a process where an interim court order can be obtained by you, without the consent or knowing of the person harassing you, based solely on your version as put to the Court as to why you believe that you are being harassed sexually. The Court will then, based on the evidence presented by yourself, and if you can justify that you have already suffered harm or are likely to suffer harm in the absence of such an Order, decide to grant or deny interim relief by issuing you with a Protection Order. You will further be provided with a future date upon which the person harassing you should appear in Court, where after it will be decided if the interim Order that you obtained will become a final one.
This interim Protection Order is drafted to fit each and every circumstance and to provide you with the necessary protection that you need to remain safe and out of harm’s way. The Court can therefore dictate that the person is prohibited from engaging with you either by way of social media or face-to-face and can also include a distance perimeter. A warrant of arrest also usually accompanies such an interim Protection Order.
This Order is further served on your perverted friend through the SAPS and he / she is therefore made aware of the fact that he / she is not allowed to violate the terms of the Protection Order and of the seriousness thereof.
What happens if the harassment continues even when you have a valid interim Protection Order?
A simple telephone call or a reporting of the incident to your closest police station might save your life as the SAPS have the authorisation to arrest the person harassing you immediately. If you have a final Protection Order, a violation of same is regarded as a criminal offence and can result in a fine to be issued or imprisonment for a period up to 5 years.
Are you convinced that taking a stand is the right thing to do yet? Not sure if you want to fight this fight alone? Appoint us. We’ll be your gladiators in suits. No more unwanted secret Santa surprises.
2017 – JUSTICE IN REVIEW
– Jacques Brits
2017 – Justice in Review
2017 was a long and eventful year with a few court cases that made the headlines and encouraged public commentary and engagement. If you were a little too busy to keep track of everything, this article will give you the highlights to help keep the small talk around the Christmas table going. Let’s take a look at some of the high profile court cases that took place during the course of 2017.
Poppie van der Merwe
We all know about the completely heart-breaking and devastating events that took place in the Koekemoer household on 25 October 2016. After more than a year of awaiting the inevitable justice to be served, and after some controversy regarding the dysfunctionality of our legal system, judgment was handed down on 6 December 2017.
After hearing evidence indicating the severe abuse which Poppie and her five year old brother had to endure from February 2015 to October 2016, the Judge found both Louisa Koekemoer and her husband, Kobus Koekemoer equally guilty for the 3 year old Poppie’s death and the severe abuse on Poppie and her five year old brother.
The trial was postponed to 28 February 2018 for pre-sentencing reports. This process entails an investigation into the history of Louisa and Kobus Koekemoer, in order to ascertain whether there exists aggravating or mitigating circumstances for the sentence to be handed down.
After a long wait, and even some questions whether this trial had finally reached its conclusion, the Oscar Pistorius saga continued in 2017.
After serving only 10 months of his 5 year culpable homicide sentence, Pistorius was released and put under house arrest in 2015. The state subsequently appealed the conviction, which was later replaced by a 6 year jail term for murder. The state petitioned to the Supreme Court of Appeal once again, arguing that the sentence imposed was far too lenient.
On 24 November 2017, the Supreme Court set aside the high court sentence and substituted it with a sentence of 13 years and 5 months, taking into account the time that Pistorius had already served prior to the substituted sentence.
Jayde Panayiotou was kidnapped from her Kabega Park home on 21 April 2015. The deceased’s body was found in Rocklands outside Uitenhage the next day. The prosecution argued that the accused orchestrated his wife’s killing, by making use of the services of Sinethemba Nemembe and Zolani Sibeko.
On 2 November 2017, the Port Elizabeth High Court found the Port Elizabeth businessman guilty on the charges of murder and obstruction of justice, while also finding Nemembe guilty of murder and robbery and Sibeko guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.
On 24 November 2017, Panayiotou was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife. His co-accused Nemembe was also handed a life sentence, while Sibeko was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.
Henri Van Breda
After 63 long days, this pending court case was again postponed to the 12th of February 2018 for final arguments. Judgment is expected towards the end of March 2018.
The aforementioned court cases places great emphasis on an important principle of law, namely justice. Let’s hope for more of this in the New Year.
Merry Christmas to all of you and a Happy New Year. My wish for the new year – “That justice not only be done, but be seen to be done”
 R v Sussex Justices ex parte McCharthy (1924) 1 KB 256 (1923) All ER Rep 233
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.