national helplines
Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline 0800 70 80 90  

Childline 08000 55 555   

COVID-19 Counselling 0800 786 786 

Gender Based Violence Command Center 0800 428 428  

Lifeline 0861 322 322    

Narcotics Anonymous 083 900 6962  

National Counselling Line: 0861 322 322

National Shelter Movement 0800 001 005   

OUT Helpline 0860 688 688   

SADAG Mental Health Line 011 234 4837 

SA Federation for Mental Health 011 781 1852   

South African Depression and Anxiety Group: 080 021 2223

Suicide Crisis Line 0800 567 567 

Tough Love 0861 868 445   

Toll-Free Crisis Line: 086 157 4747

Women Abuse Helpline 0800 150 150

South African Police Service

As Police Officials of the South African Police Service commit ourselves to the creation of a safe and secure environment for all people in South Africa by –

Participating in endeavours to address the root causes of crime in the community;

Preventing action which may threaten the safety or security of any community; and 

Investigating criminal conduct which has endangered the safety or security of the community and bringing the perpetrators thereof to justice.

In realization of the aforesaid commitment, we shall at all times –

Uphold the Constitution and the law;

Be guided by the needs of the community;

Give full recognition to the needs of the South African Police Service as my employer; and

Cooperate with the community, government at every level and all other related role-players.

Find SAPS closest to you

My SAPS is a FREE application available for IPhones and other smartphones, provided by the South African Police Services. 

My SAPS will allow you to submit crime tip-offs (anonymously) to the Crime Stop Centre and send updates.

It also allows you easy access to all SAPS Stations information with the SAPS Station finder, as well as to all SAPS Social Media platforms.

Download the app
GBV Command Centre

The Gender-Based Violence Command Centre (GBVCC) operates under The Department of Social Development. 

The Centre operates a National, 24hr/7days-a-week Call Centre facility. The facility employs social workers who are responsible for call-taking and call referrals. 

Emergency: 0800 428 428. 

Send a “please call me: *120*7867#. 

SMS 'help' to 31531 for persons with disabilities 

The Centre is able to refer calls directly to SAPS (10111) and field Social Workers who respond to victims of GBV.

Visit the gbv site
bright sky
Bright Sky App

Bright Sky is a free to download and use app, providing support and information for anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know.

Bright Sky is a unique South African wide directory of specialist gender-based violence support services, so you can contact your nearest service by phone from the app, search by area name, or using your current location.

Contact details and the ability to call national helplines providing support for those affected by gender-based violence violence across South Africa.

National Shelter movement
National Shelter Movement

The NSM is a non-profit organisation established in 2008 at a conference of shelters nationally.  

The Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development serves as its secretariat. 

Its membership currently consists of 78 shelters spread across all nine provinces of South Africa.

Visit the NSM Website
Family Advocate

The Family Advocate is an unbiased family law specialist and advisor to the court in cases of legal disputes over custody and parental rights. 

The office also drafts parenting plans, conducts child psychological evaluations together with social workers and mediates between families where the welfare of a child is at stake. 

Find a Family Advocate near you
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Domestic Violence Act of SA

The Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998 (“the DVA”) is the law that deals with domestic violence in South Africa. This law exists to give people who are experiencing domestic violence the best possible protection that the law can, and it commits the government to stopping domestic violence.

Read the act
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Harassment Act of SA

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

The Act aims to provide a remedy in the form of a protection which would prohibit a person 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.

read the act
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Children's Act

The Children's Act 38 of 2005 intends: to give effect to certain rights of children as contained in the Constitution; to set out principles relating to the care and protection of children. 

read the act

The Family Advocate

What is the Family Advocate?  

The Family Advocate is an unbiased family law specialist and advisor to the court in cases of legal disputes over custody and parental rights. 

The office also drafts parenting plans, conducts child psychological evaluations together with social workers and mediates between families where the welfare of a child is at stake. 

What does the Family Advocate do?

The Family Advocate assists the parties to reach an agreement on disputed issues, namely custody, access and guardianship. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the Family Advocate evaluates the parties’ circumstances in light of the best interests of the child and makes a recommendation to the Court with regard to custody, access or guardianship.

How does it work?

Upon application by the parties, the Family Advocate institutes an inquiry during which the Family Advocate, assisted by a Family Counsellor (normally a trained social worker), interviews the parties to ascertain their personal circumstances and the background details to their matter. The Family Advocate then interviews the children to allow them the opportunity to be heard. This prevents the child from having to appear in Court.

Points to note
  • The Family Advocate cannot become involved in any matter that has already been finalized by the Court.
  • The Family Advocate cannot be subpoenaed to Court as a witness to give evidence on behalf of any party even if his/ her recommendation is in favour of that party.
  • The recommendation of the Family Advocate is intended to assist the Court in adjudicating a matter and arriving at a particular order. The recommendation itself is not enforceable unless incorporated in a Court Order.
  • The Family Advocate is a neutral institution and cannot act as the legal representative for either litigant, in a matter.
Benefits of the Family Advocate
  • The Family Advocate can amend or terminate parental rights and responsibilities agreements registered by the Family Advocate’s office. This means that the parties do not have to go to court if they want to amend the agreement when the need arises.
  • In the process of consulting, if the parties reach agreement on disputed issues the matter does not proceed to trial, thereby saving legal costs and time.
  • Courts or Judicial officers are required by law to consider the report and/ or recommendations of the Family Advocate when making a decision as to what is in the best interest of the minor child.
  • Courts will not readily give a decree of divorce where there is a dispute regarding minor children without the report or recommendations of the Family Advocate.
  • Parental rights and responsibilities agreements or parenting plans registered with the Family Advocate have the same legal effect as an order of court.
  • The Office of the Family Advocate affords the child an opportunity to be heard with regard to his/ her position in the parties’ pending divorce.
  • The Family Advocate is a neutral person who focuses solely on the best interests of the child.
  • The atmosphere at the Office of the Family Advocate is less rigid and solemn compared to that of a courtroom. It is therefore child-friendly.
  • The Family Advocate uses techniques of alternate dispute resolution, which help reduce the acrimony between the parties.
  • The Family Advocate may work in liaison with other professionals (example social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists), in assisting the family and to ascertain what is in the best interests of the child.
You can approach the Family Advocate if:
  • There is a dispute regarding contact or care of a child.
  • A person wants to draft a parental rights and responsibilities agreement.
  • They want to register their parental rights and responsibilities agreements.
  • A person wants to amend or terminate parental rights and responsibilities agreements registered with the Family Advocate.
  • There is a dispute on whether the unmarried father of the child born out of wedlock has satisfied the requirements which makes him eligible to acquire full parental rights and responsibilities in terms of the law.
  • Courts also make orders that the Family Advocate has to conduct an inquiry as to what is in the best interest of the child.
When to go to the Family Advocate?
  • When fathers of children born out of wedlock want to exercise/ acquire full parental rights and responsibilities.
  • Parents who cannot agree on how to exercise their responsibilities and rights to their child.
  • Parents who have minor children and there is a divorce pending and court has requested them to partake in an enquiry at the office of the family advocate
  • Any other person (e.g. grandparents) who want  to exercise/ acquire full parental rights and responsibilities
How does the Family Advocate assist parents?
  • Mediate parent`s disputes over parental responsibilities and rights
  • Place the or register parenting plans at no cost
  • By providing qualified, motivated and well equipped professionals (Family Advocate, Family Counsellors and Family Law Assistants) who will provide child focussed mediation between parents who want to exercise their parental rights and responsibilities.
  • Provide legal information (not advise)
  • By facilitating and or monitoring that an agreement that will be in the best interest of their child.
  • Provide courts with reports in litigation matters
  • Family advocate recommends to court on how parents can within their circumstances care for the child.
  • The Family Counsellor will conduct a forensic investigation that will assist in determining the best interest of the child.
What does the Family Advocate cost?

The services of the Family Advocate are rendered to the public free of charge. The Family Advocate is a legal officer employed by the Department of Justice and acts as legal representative of the children.

  • The family Advocate renders his/her services to the public free of charge.
  • The parties to a legal dispute may be required to pay for additional expert reports, e.g. psychological evaluation, and other forensic tests where those are critical to the determination of the child’s best interests.
What are parental responsibilities and rights?
  • It includes, care of the child, contact with the child, guardianship of the child and maintenance of the child.
  • The parents can enter into an agreement on the responsibilities and rights on their own terms and then register it with the Family Advocate or make it an order of court at the Family Court.
What is a parenting plan?
  • A parenting plan is where parents are co-holders of parental responsibilities and rights including where and with whom the child is to live, the maintenance of the child, contact between the child and any of the parents or any other person and the schooling and religious upbringing of the child.