Question posted in the General Law category relating to KwaZulu-Natal
I am asking legal advice on behalf of a friend:
Good day, I would appreciate it if you would give me as much advice as possible that you deem relevant and necessary concerning my situation as will be explained hereafter, followed by my list of questions:
In 2011 my father-in-law and his girlfriend visited a friend and during the visit, a fight broke out between the girlfriend and the wife of the friend. The wife of the friend physically assaulted the girlfriend and, as a consequence, my father-in-law brought her to the house where my father-in-law and I was staying (it should be noted that it is a RDP house which passed down from generation to generation in my husband’s family). The girlfriend was hurt and emotionally broken so I took her in, clothed her, nursed her, fed her, and sheltered her. She insisted on sleeping in my father-in-law’s room that same night and I did not protest. The following day she told me that I do not have to help her with clothes as she will be bringing her belongings the next day and that I did not have to worry. Once again, I did not protest and for a while us three as well as my two teenage children (age 18 and 14 at the time) lived happily together. However, as the days went by, she started arguing with me and my children on a regular basis and then she began to swear at me and beat me up. At that time, she also started drinking, smoking pot and entertained other men in the house when my father-in-law was at work. When my father-in-law was drunk, she would gossip and provoke him to hit me and, consequently, I went to court and got an interdict against them. As a response they physically assaulted me again, so I went to the doctor and got a doctor’s report which I took to court and, thereafter, a warrant of arrest was issued for them. The girlfriend counter charged me by getting an interdict against me and by saying that I was lying and that I was the one who beat her, so we settled the case and tried living together again. Then one day in December 2013 at a time when the courts and the housing council were closed my children and I went Christmas shopping and when we got home the girlfriend got the locks at the gate changed and I could not get access to the house. She screamed, swore at me, and chased me while refusing to open the door. We had no clothes and she refused to give our belongings back, so I had to find shelter till the courts opened again. When the courts opened, I went to them, but my father-in-law and his girlfriend kept on using the argument that I clearly now have a place to stay and that I should let it go and let them live in the RDP house. However, the RDP house originally belonged to my mother-in-law and she was not legally married to my father-in-law, nor was my father-in-law legally married to his girlfriend. My late husband (the son of the mother-in-law who had the legal right to stay in the RDP house) and I were legally married. When my late husband passed away in 2010, I went to the housing council and pleaded my case as I have two children with my late husband, and they agreed that I could stay in the RDP house. Regardless of my right to stay in the RDP house, the courts gave the father-in-law and his girlfriend the house and removed me and my children. A few weeks later the girlfriend threw out my belongings and kept those that she wanted. Two months later the father-in-law, who was a physically fit man and working, passed away from a heart attack. She made herself a beneficiary of his insurance policy and were also apparently living off her late husband’s pension fund on the condition that she does not get married again. Therefore, she apparently has a habit of living with men and taking what she can without getting legally married. One year later my sister-in-law went to the girlfriend to find out how she got the house back and they got into an argument. The next day the girlfriend called the police to give me a warning and, consequently, I had to go to court and be warned by the magistrate even though I did not have contact with the girlfriend or encouraged the sister-in-law to take action about the situation. Seven years later in 2020 the granddaughter of my mother-in-law arrived at the RDP house and was shocked that the house was not in the family anymore as she needed a place to stay. At this point in time, I am homeless after returning from missionary work and lived at my mother’s house, which is a RDP house next-door to the RDP house mentioned above wherein the girlfriend of the father-in-law is still staying (we live in a flat block in Durban). Last Friday (11/12/2020) the granddaughter went to the girlfriend to confront her about the house and I was busy inside my mother’s house when I heard the granddaughter shouting outside. I went outside as well and tried to calm the granddaughter who started complaining to me about how the girlfriend is speaking to her, so I took her for a walk to calm her down and told her that if she wants the house back, then she will have to do it the legal way. Thereafter I walked with her to the place where someone is currently offering her accommodation. On the 13th of December 2020 I video called my daughter on Whatsapp to introduce her to the granddaughter, who is her cousin, as she has not seen her for many years. I wanted to surprise her so I was standing outside at night at my mother’s bedroom’s window which is right next to the RDP house in which the girlfriend is living. In light of the fact that my daughter knows that I travel a lot she was asking me where I currently am seeing that I am with her cousin, so I stood a few seconds in front of the gate of the RDP house where the girlfriend is staying to show my daughter where I was as I knew she would recognise the flat where she grew up in and will instantly know where I am. Thereafter I moved back to my mother’s window and allowed my daughter and the granddaughter to speak to each other and after a few minutes I took my phone back and walked away to the end of the block of flats to get privacy and enjoy the chat with my daughter, because there were a few people loudly talking to the granddaughter while sitting outside the flat where I am living at my mother’s house. On the 14th of December the girlfriend went to court and accused me of verbally abusing her and throwing dirt into her house and since she has an interdict against me, the court issued a warrant of arrest. I am of the opinion that the girlfriend is implicating me by accusing me that I am inciting the granddaughter and trying to get the house back through the granddaughter, even though that is not the case. I was arrested on the 15th of December 2020 and spent 3 days and 2 nights in prison. On the 17th of December I had a court hearing and asked for legal aid. The court refused bail but said that they will release me from prison if I stay with someone who is willing to agree at that moment in court to take me in and fetch my belongings on behalf of me. My son who is now a grown man took me in and I have been living with him since.
With all that being said, I have the following questions:
1) Can I obtain proof of the interdict that I have against her and proof of the court proceedings from years ago when she abused me?
2) How could she prove that I am guilty of verbal abuse and how could I be assured that she will not lie again as she did years ago, and possibly bribe her way out?
2) Considering that my next court hearing is the 20th of January 2021, can I get affidavits from witnesses to prove my innocence?
3) What are other ways that I can proof my innocence?
3) How am I supposed to prepare for the court case as the legal aid that represented me on the 17th of December 2020 took my details after the court hearing, but did not give me his contact information?
3) If my family begs the girlfriend for forgiveness and asks her to drop the case, will she be able to use that against me to say that I must probably be guilty if that is how my family is reacting?