Debt Relief Finance Scheme for SMMEs

This information is for small and medium businesses which are negatively affected, directly or indirectly, due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Qualifying criteria

  • The business must have been registered with CIPC by at least 28 February 2020;
  • The company must be 100% owned by South African citizens;
  • Employees must be 70% South Africans;
  • Priority will be given to businesses owned by women, youth and people with disabilities;
  • Must be registered and compliant with SARS and UIF;
  • The Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) will assist micro-enterprises to comply and request for assistance must be emailed to;
  • Whereas small and medium enterprises must ensure their own compliance;
  • Registration on the National SMME Database –;
  • Proof that the business is negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Complete the simplified online application platform;
  • Company Statutory Documents;
  • FICA documents (e.g. Municipal accounts, letter from traditional authority);
  • Certified ID Copies of Directors;
  • 3 months Bank Statements;
  • Latest Annual Financial Statements or latest Management Accounts not older than three months from date of application – where applicable;
  • Business Profile;
  • 6 months Cash Flow Projections – where applicable;
  • Copy of Lease Agreement or proof of ownership if applying for rental relief;
  • If applying for payroll relief, details of employees – as registered with UIF and including banking details – will be required as payroll payments will be made directly to employees;
  • SMME employers who are not compliant with UIF must register before applying for relief;
  • Facility Statements of other funders;
  • Detail breakdown on application of funds, including salaries, rent, et cetera.

Application process

For more information: /

0860 663 7867 or 0860 ONE STOP

Suspension of Child Support Grants

Is it legal to suspend a Child Grant and what should I do?

Yes, SASSA can review your child’s grant to ensure that only those who qualify receive it BUT SASSA must follow a process.

You will be told three (3) months in advance if the grant is going to be reviewed.

Why is a grant suspended?

A child grant may be suspended for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The child is no longer in your care
  • There is a dispute over who the true primary caregiver of the child is (an investigation will take place)
  • If you fail to cooperate when the child’s grant is reviewed
  • If you have committed fraud or misrepresented information

 There may also be other reasons:

  • The child has died
  • The child has been admitted to a state institution
  • The caregiver does not collect the grant for three months in a row
  • The child is absent from the country
  • The child turns 18 (this will only happen at the end of the month in which their birthday falls)

Why does this happen?

  • SASSA might need proof of identity of the child
  • They want to make sure that the child is still in school
  • That you are the primary caregiver has not changed

 After the investigation, if passed the review, the child support grant will be reinstated.

What can you do if your Grant is suspended?

If your application is suspended or is not approved, you must be informed in writing.

If you disagree, you can go to the Appeals Tribunal within 90 days of being notified.

After 90 days, appeals can only happen in exceptional circumstances.

If you have any queries related to your social grant, you can contact the:

  • Black Sash Helpline on 072 663 3739
  • Legal Aid Advice Line on 0800 110 110 

*Information obtained courtesy – Black Sash

Social grants – COVID-19

Social Relief of Distress grants

Applications for the R350 SASSA Social Relief of Distress grants:

Applicant’s Criteria: 

  • Above the age of 18; 
  • Unemployed; 
  • Not receiving any income; 
  • Not receiving any social grant; 
  • Not receiving any unemployment insurance benefit and does not qualify to receive unemployment insurance benefits; 
  • Not receiving a stipend from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme; and 
  • Not a resident in a government funded or subsidised institution.

Documents Required

Prospective applicants will need to provide the following compulsory information for processing of their applications:

  • Identity Number;
  • Name and Surname as captured in the ID (and initials);
  • Gender and Disability;
  • Banking details – Bank Name and Account Number;
  • Contact details – Cellphone number; and
  • Proof of Residential Address.

Application Process

An application for social relief of distress or a social grant may be lodged electronically over and above any other available means of lodging such applications.

The measures applicable include:

  • Sending a WhatsApp message to 0600 123 456 and selecting SASSA, or
  • Sending an email to 

Grant Breakdown

  • Child support grant beneficiaries will receive an extra R300 in May, and from June to October they will receive an additional R500 each month.
  • All other grant beneficiaries will receive an extra R250 per month for the next six months.
  • In addition, a special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress grant of R350 a month for the next 6 months will be paid to individuals who are currently unemployed and do not receive any other form of social grant or UIF payment *.

Social grant payments at cash pay points procedure

  • SASSA will deploy at least one manager to each pay point to assist with queue management and to attend to enquiries – staff will have protective gear (masks and gloves) and carry hand sanitiser.
  • SAPO has committed to having hand sanitiser available for all clients – they will be sanitised just prior to joining a short queue for payment.
  • Access to pay points will be limited to control social distancing.
  • SAPO staff to be equipped with masks and gloves.
  • Security staff will be equipped with masks and gloves.
  • Postbank call centre (available 24/7) on 0800 53 54 55 to deal with concerns and complaints related to SASSA/SAPO cards – card replacement, PIN resets and non-payment.

SASSA Call Centre

  • The SASSA Call Centre (0800 60 10 11) will be available, although there may be reduced capacity.
  • The Call Centre is available during working hours only.

Grant amounts have increased as from 1 April 2020.

  • Grants for older persons and disability grants increase to R1 860.
  • Grants for war veterans and older persons older than 75 years increase to R1 880.
  • Foster child grants increase to R1 040 per child.
  • Care dependency grants increase to R1 860.
  • Child support grants increase to R440 per child.

Information from Copyright 2020 Government of South Africa.

* The Department of Social Development will issue the requirements needed to access and apply for this funding

What to do when you have a car accident

What to do when you have a car accident.

  • You must Stop and Help anyone person who has been injured
  • If you are involved in an accident that causes injury to or the death of anyone, or which
    causes damage to property or any animal, you are required by law to stop your vehicle.
  • It is a crime not to stop after an accident, and you could be fined up to R180 000, or sent to
    prison for up to nine years, or both.
  • Get all relevant information of the motor vehicles involved in the accident.
    drivers’ names, identity numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, description of the motor vehicles, the registration numbers, and any relevant details from the licence discs, the date, time and address of the accident, the weather and road conditions when the accident occurred; any information that may be relevant.
  • If an employee is driving a motor vehicle on behalf of his/her employer, then the details of the driver and the employer must be taken.
  • Call the police or report the accident at the nearest police station:
    within 24 hours if a person is killed or injured; or
    on the first working day after the accident if no person was killed or injured.
  • Write down the name of the police officer spoken to and the accident report’s
    reference number.
  • you must stay at the scene until a police officer says you can leave
    Co-operate with all emergency personnel and police who respond to the accident.
  • Write down the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all potential witnesses of
    the accident.
  • Take photographs or a video of the following:
    the scene of the accident, from as many angles and the surrounding area;
    the injuries; and any damage to property.
  • Draw a sketch plan of the scene of the accident and make sure that it contains a
    fixed point so that it can easily be traced.
  • Also make a statement about how the accident happened.
  • If a person has been injured, a doctor must be consulted immediately, even if the
    injury is not serious.
  • If the person is insured, that person has to notify his/her insurance or broker as soon
    as possible. Write down the name of the person spoken to at the insurance and the
    reference number of the claim.
  • Do not interfere with the evidence.

This information will help you if you want to make a claim against your insurance or against the Road Accident Fund, or if you want to claim the costs of repairs from the other party.
At a later stage, you or your lawyers may need a copy of the accident report that is filled out by the police.
You must NOT drink any alcohol or take any drugs that have a narcotic effect unless it is on doctor’s orders.
If the police asks you to go for a medication examination, you must not drink any alcohol or take any drugs that have a narcotic effect before the examination and before you have reported the accident.
If anyone is injured in the accident, the vehicles may not be moved before the police or traffic officer has arrived and said that the vehicles can be moved.
If the accident totally blocks the passage of other vehicles, the vehicle may be moved sufficiently to allow vehicles to pass, but only after you have clearly marked the vehicle positions (for example with chalk or spray paint).

Be aware of the possible legal consequences

Some of the possible legal consequences following an accident are:

  • a criminal charge of driving recklessly,
  • a criminal charge of driving negligently,
  • a civil claim for damage to property, or
  • a civil claim for personal injury.

What must a person NOT do after an accident?

  • Move his/her motor vehicle; unless it is necessary for safety or required by law.
  • Subject himself/herself to further injury by standing or waiting in an area near traffic
    or other safety hazards.
  • Leave the scene of an accident until the police tell him/her to do so.
  • Throw away any potential evidence, such as defective products, important
    documents, or torn or blood-stained clothing.
  • Engage in discussions of fault with anyone as that can be considered evidence in
    court – do not admit liability.
  • Agree to settlement terms without discussing the matter with an attorney.

Can a person claim damages to his/her motor vehicle from the Road Accident Fund

  • No, the RAF does not cover damages to a person’s property, such as: damage to his/her motor vehicle; damage to his/her other property, for example, clothes; or damage to his/her fence or house when someone drives off the road and into the house.

  • If a person wants to claim for his/her damaged property, s/he will have to institute a claim in court against the driver of the motor vehicle and/or his/her employer if s/he was driving a company motor vehicle.
  • A person has a right to claim for damages caused by injury or death from the RAF if s/he is a victim of an accident as a result of the wrongful (negligent) driving of another. The RAF may compensate a victim of an accident for injury, and in the event of death it may compensate the dependents of that victim for their loss.

Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF)

Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF)

How to Claim Benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF)

Before you start the UIF application process, make sure that you actually qualify to claim benefits.
In order to qualify for UIF, you must have been paying UIF contributions
You can confirm this by looking on your pay slip for any deductions that are marked for UIF.

All Workers that have been paying UIF contributions can claim UIF if:

  • Their employers have become bankrupt.
  • Their contracts have ended.
  • Their contracts have ended due to the death of an employer.
  • If you have been fired.

Domestic workers can claim if:

They work for more than 1 employer, and lose their employment at one of the employers or if their employer dies.
You cannot claim if you:

  • Receive benefits from the Compensation Fund.
  • Receive benefits from an unemployment fund established under the Labour Relations Act.
  • Are suspended from claiming because of fraud.
  • Quit your job, resign or abscond.
  • do not report at set dates and times.
  • Refuse training and advice that may be given by UIF staff.

When can you claim UIF?

You can claim UIF starting from your last day of employment until your UIF benefits are used up or you have started working again.
You cannot register for UIF before your current employment contract has expired and you must
claim within 6 months after you have stopped working.

How to register for UIF?

Unemployed workers must apply for UIF benefits at their nearest labour centre in person.

Step 1: The Documentation that you need.
Ensure that you have all necessary documents on hand, otherwise you will be sent away.
You need:

  • Your 13-digit bar-coded ID or passport.
  • Form UI-2.8 for banking details.

Tip: This needs to be signed by your bank and accompanied by a stamped bank statement
to confirm your bank account details form UI-19 to show your employment history.
This form is to be filled in by your previous employer.
Tip: The labour department looks at your past 4 years of work history in order to calculate
your UIF benefit amount.
Make sure you have all necessary declarations from previous employers dating back 4 years
If an employer has failed to issue you with a declaration, that employer must also fill out a UI-19 form a work seekers form last 2 payslips

Step 2: Go to the nearest labour centre
Once you have all your documentation, you must go to the nearest labour centre in person. You can find the address and telephone number of your nearest centre at

Tip: Be sure you have enough time – an average wait at the labour department can be
anything from 2-6 hours
There is a slight chance that the staff at the labour centre may ask unemployed workers to go for training or advice – this is within their rights and you will have to as they say.

How will I be paid?
Now that you have registered for UIF, the staff at the labour centre will issue you with a UIF
On this checklist you will find time, date and signing venue.
Step 1: Go To The Signing Venue
You must appear at the designated venue on the time and date stipulated in order to sign your first UIF payment.
Bring the UIF checklist and your ID document.
Step 2: Sign the unemployment register and receive UI-6A forms
If you have successfully registered for UIF, your name will be read out from a list.
You will be required to sign a register to mark your attendance and confirm that you are still unemployed.
Collect all the UI-6A forms (one for each future signing) – make sure you keep these somewhere safe as you will need them every time you are due for a UIF payment.
Your first payment will be paid into your bank account within 2-4 days after you have signed the
Step 3: Take Note of Your Next Signing Date
Make sure you are aware of your next signing date – it is printed on your UI-6A forms.
The next time you have to attend for a signing will be approximately 4 weeks apart.
You will have to hand in the relevant UI-6A form every time you attend, so make sure you have these with you.

How much will I be paid?

The amount that you will be paid is determined differently depending on the amount of your
monthly salary.
Workers who earn less than R 12 478 per month.
You will receive approximately 36%-56% of your average monthly salary from the past 4 years.
The higher your salary, the lower the percentage that you will get back.
Workers who earn more than R 12 478 per month.
You will receive a fixed monthly benefit of approximately R4250 – R4550.
How long you will be able to receive UIF depends on the length of time that you have contributed to the fund.

You are eligible to receive 1 day worth of benefits for every 6 days that you worked and
contributed UIF over the past 4 years. The maximum number of days you can claim is 238 days.

UIF Forms

Instituting Action in the Small Claims Court Guide

Self-Help Guide to Instituting Action in the Small Claims Court

This guide is designed to assist you in instituting action in the Small Claims Court. It starts off by explaining what the Small Claims Court is and what types of matters the Small Claims Court can listen to.


The Small Claims Court provides a cheap, simple and fast way to institute minor civil claims.

Different Small Claims Courts open at different times, but they typically open at 16h00 or 17h00 and sit outside of normal office hours. This is to allow people to make use of the court without having to take leave from their day jobs. The Small Claims Court is designed to help people with no legal knowledge or background.

Legal assistants and clerks of the Small Claims Court will assist you free of charge.

There is a prerequisite that you must appear in person; you are not allowed to have a legal representative to represent you, but neither is your opponent (the other party).

The only costs that may be awarded against a party is the limited Sheriff’s fees paid by the other party.

TIP: The court is open to the public and you can bring your friends and/or family members along for emotional support. It remains a court, so be sure that you are on time, dressed neatly and at all times respect the dignity of the court. Don’t eat, drink or speak loudly in the court and make sure that your cell phone is switched off.

What type of case can be instituted in this court?

(Lawyers talk about “causes of action”)

  • Actions for the delivery or transfer of any property, movable or immovable, not exceeding R20 000 in value.
  • Actions for ejectment against the occupier of any premises within the area of jurisdiction of the court. Where the right of occupation of the premises is in dispute, the right may not exceed R20 000 in value.
  • Actions based on or arising out of a “liquid document” (a written, unconditional acknowledgement of debt that is signed by the debtor or his agent) not exceeding R20 000 in value (for example, a cheque).
  • Actions based on or arising out of a credit agreement, where the claim or the value of the property in dispute does not exceed R20 000 in value.

As the last point includes a wide range of cases, the Small Claims Court Act 61 of 1984 also specifically lists which types of cases cannot be instituted in the Small Claims Court.

What type of case cannot be instituted in this court?

  • Divorce
  • Claims concerning the validity of a will
  • Claims concerning the status of a person in respect of his mental capacity
  • Claims against the State (including municipalities and local governments)
  • Claims based on the cession or the transfer of rights
  • Claims for damages in respect of defamation, malicious prosecution, wrongful imprisonment, wrongful arrest, seduction, or breach of promise to marry
  • Claims in which “specific performance” is sought (meaning you want the court to force the other party to perform their contractual duty) without an alternative claim for payment of damages
  • A decree of perpetual silence (meaning you want the court to force the other party – who has threatened to bring a claim against you – to either bring the claim within a specified period of time or forfeit the right to do so)
  • An interdict (meaning a court order prohibiting someone from doing something specific – like disclosing trade secrets – or mandating them to do something specific – like complete repairs in terms of a contract)

The court may also stop the proceedings if it is of the opinion that the case is too difficult or complex to be heard in the Small Claims Court. You will then have to institute the matter in the Magistrates’ Court or High Court.

TIP: The Small Claims Court may hear matters where the amount of the claim or counterclaim is R20 000 or less.
You may abandon a part of your claim or counterclaim to bring the claim or counterclaim within the jurisdiction of the court. For example, if you have a claim for R22 000, you may decide to waive R2 000 of your claim, so that you can claim the remaining R20 000 in the Small Claims Court.
If you do want to have someone ejected from a premises, it is advisable to seek legal advice as this can get very complicated and potentially involves several other pieced of legislation in addition to the Small Claims Act.

Only natural persons (that means a human being) may institute a claim in the Small Claims Court. Thus “juristic persons” – like a company, corporation or association – are excluded. Any person under 18 years of age must be assisted by a parent or guardian if they institutes a claim.

TIP: The Small Claims Court is designed to assist private individuals with cases involving smaller amounts of money.

As such, the Small Claims Court has its hearings outside of normal business hours, to enable individuals to attend court without having to miss work or forfeit wages.

The jurisdiction will follow the opposing party (defendant) or the type of case. This means that if the opposing party (defendant) lives or works in the area assigned to a certain Small Claims Court, the claim must be instituted in that Small Claims Court.

Alternatively, the Small Claims Court in whose assigned area the whole cause of action arose could hear the matter. For example, if you had a motor vehicle accident in Pretoria, the Small Claims Court in Pretoria could also be approached to hear the matter.

In other words, you have to either start the case in the court in whose area the defendant lives or is employed or otherwise where the whole of the cause of action arose. If you take a claim for damage to your vehicle, you would be able to issue summons in the court where the driver of the other vehicle stays or where the accident took place.

What is the process that I should follow if I want to institute a claim?

The Small Claims Court Timeline:

  • A letter of demand is drafted & delivered
  • 14 working days must lapse from receipt of the letter of demand by the opposing party before you can approach the court to issue summons
  • Issue summons (and obtain a court date)
  • Statement by opposing party with or without a counterclaim
  • Hearing of the matter
  • Review (if necessary) and
  • Enforcement of the judgment or order.

TIP: A proper and correct letter of demand may in many cases cause the other party to pay the required amount. In such a case, it will be unnecessary to approach the court again, unless a summons has already been issued.

Sipho owns a car that he wants to sell. He enters into an oral contract with Sue to sell the car to her.
The terms of the contract are the following:

  1. Sipho sells his car to Sue for R11 000 (eleven thousand rand).
  2. Sipho will deliver the car to Sue on 21 March.
  3. Sue will pay the amount of R11 000 (eleven thousand rand) into Sipho’s bank account on or before 21 March.

On the morning of 21 March Sipho delivers the car to Sue. Sue says that she will make an electronic transfer into Sipho’s bank account that same day. It is now two weeks later and the money still does not reflect in Sipho’s bank account.

On the 5th of February Mr Peter Arendse, while driving his black ABC motor vehicle (registration number: CBA 123 TP), approached a stop sign at an intersection on the corner of Matilda Street & Park Street, Hatfield, Pretoria. Mr Arendse saw the stop sign and stopped at the stop sign.

At the same time Mr Andre Willemse was driving his white DEF motor vehicle (registration number: FED 456 TP) behind Mr Arendse. Mr Willemse did not see that there was an intersection with a stop sign to stop and therefore did not realise that Mr Arendse stopped his motor vehicle. Mr Willemse subsequently failed to stop his motor vehicle in time to avoid an accident and drove his motor vehicle into the rear end of Mr Arendse’s motor vehicle.

Mr Arendse’s motor vehicle suffered damages at the rear end as a result of the accident.

Mr Arendse wants to claim damages for the accident which Mr Willemse caused by not stopping in time at the stop sign and driving into Mr Arendse’s motor vehicle at the rear.

Mr Arendse followed good procedure and immediately obtained all the relevant details from the other driver.  These details included all details relating to the motor vehicle the other driver was driving such as the motor vehicle’s registration plate number, type of motor vehicle, which can usually also be obtained from the license disc in the windscreen of the other driver.
Further, he also obtained the other driver’s details taken from his driver’s license such as his full names and surname, identity number. He also took photos of the motor vehicles to show the damages and how the motor vehicles were positioned after the accident.
He made a note of the date of the accident and what the weather conditions were like, reported the accident at the nearest police station as soon as he could and obtained a copy of the accident report.

Afterwards, he obtained three independent quotes from auto body repair workshops to get an estimation of the damages to his vehicle.

William buys a dining room table from Helen Furniture (Pty) Ltd. 
The terms of the contract are the following:

  1. Helen Furniture (Pty) Ltd will deliver the dining room table on 24 March.
  2. William has to pay the amount of R5 000 (five thousand rand) on or before 20 March.

William pays the amount of R5 000 (five thousand rand) on 18 March. The 24th of March has already passed and Helen Furniture (Pty) Ltd has not delivered the table yet.

Ms Sandy Mthembu and Mr Danny de Santos concluded a written lease agreement on the 10th of April. The parties agreed that Ms Mthembu will lease her property situated at 123 Buck Street, Hatfield to Mr Danny de Santos for 12 (twelve) months with a monthly rental amount being R2,500.00 (two thousand five hundred rand).

The terms of the agreement were the following:

  1. Ms Sandy Mthembu agreed to lease her property situated at 123 Buck Street, Hatfield to Mr Danny de Santos.
  2. The lease period as stipulated in the lease agreement will be from 1 May to 30 April (12 months).
  3. Mr de Santos will rent this property from Mr Mthembu for a monthly rental instalment of R 2,500.00 (two thousand five hundred rand).
  4. Mr de Santos will occupy the property from 1 May to 30 April.

On the 10th of May Mr Ronald Pitsi and a painter, Mr William Thabato, verbally agreed that Mr Thabato will paint Mr Pitsi’s house situated at 100 Sun Street, Hatfield, Pretoria. Mr Thabato must finish painting the house within a period of three days being from the 15th of May to the 17th of May. Mr Pitsi will provide all the paint needed to paint his house. Mr Thabato must bring all the necessary painting equipment to ensure that he will be able to complete the job. Mr Pitsi will pay Mr Thabato R10 000.00 (ten thousand rand) on the satisfactory completion of this painting job.

The terms of the verbal agreement are the following:

  1. Mr Thabato will paint Mr Pitsi’s house situated at 100 Sun Street, Hatfield, Pretoria.
  2. Mr Pitsi will provide all the paint as needed to complete the job.
  3. Mr Thabato must use his own painting equipment to complete the job.
  4. Mr Thabato must complete the painting job within three days being from 15th of May to the 17th of May.
  5. Mr Pitsi will pay Mr Thabato an amount of R10 000.00 (ten thousand rand) on completion of the painting job.

Your first step is to address a written letter of demand to the other party

Draft a written letter of demand to the opposing party (setting out the particulars of the facts and the amount of the claim). Deliver the letter of demand by hand, registered post or by sheriff to the opposing party and give him a minimum of 14 working days from his receipt of the letter of demand to settle your claim. Please note that, should you make use of the sheriff to deliver the letter of demand, you will have to pay the sheriff’s fees.
To enable you to properly draft your letter of demand for damage to property, you will need to be able to show the amount of your damage. For this, you will need to first obtain a quote. Remember to keep all receipts necessary to prove your claim.
Keep emotional language, “mud slinging”, out of the letter of demand! Stick to the facts – you don’t want to end up being sued yourself.
If you serve the demand on the opposing party by hand, have someone accompany you and deliver it to the opposing party directly, or if not possible, to a person of 16 years or older at the same address where the opposing party lives. Remember to get the name and signature of the recipient to confirm the delivery. If the recipient refuses to sign for receiving a copy of the letter, you and the person who accompanied you should each make an affidavit (a statement made under oath before a commissioner of oaths – such as a police officer) to confirm delivery.

In the present scenario, the body of the letter of demand may contain text similar to the following:

“I hereby claim from you the R11 000.00 (eleven thousand rand) which you had to pay into my bank account on or before the 21st of March.

You and I entered into an oral contract on 14 March at a coffee shop in Pretoria. I represented myself and you represented yourself. In terms of the contract I sold to you your car (with registration number TWG 345 GP) for R11 000 (eleven thousand rand). I had to deliver the car to you on 21 March and you had to pay the amount of R 11 000 (eleven thousand rand) into my bank account on or before 21 March.
I delivered the motor car to you on 21 March. The 21st of March has now already passed and you have not yet paid me the R 11 000.00 as agreed into my bank account.

I hereby demand from you payment in the amount of R 11 000.00 (eleven thousand rand).

Unless you comply with this demand within 14 (fourteen) business days after receipt of this letter, summons will be issued against you in the Small Claims Court

TIP: It is generally advisable to deliver the letter of demand by hand, or to have the sheriff do it. This avoids the problem of having to prove that the letter or registered letter was in fact received by the other party.

How to institute an action?

Go to the clerk of the court and take along the written letter of demand, proof of delivery of the demand, any proof of the claim (for example a contract) and the full name, address and telephone number of the opposing party. It would also save time if you download and complete the Small Claims Court Complaint Form, and take that along as well.

The clerk will assist you with the drafting of a summons. The clerk will then give you a court date and a time for the hearing. The clerk will then issue the summons and give it to you.

You can now serve the summons personally on the opposing party and remember to keep the acknowledgement of receipt, using the same procedure as with the letter of demand above.

You may also hand the summons to the sheriff to serve it for you. If you do this, remember to get the return of service (document confirming that the summons was served) from the sheriff. If you make use of the services of the sheriff, you will also be liable to pay his fees.

You should inform the witnesses, if there are any, of the date and time of the hearing so that they can be present at court.

In the present scenario, the relevant parts of the complaint form may contain text similar to the following:

“Main aspects of your claim:

  • Sue and I entered into an oral contract on 14 March at a coffee shop in Pretoria. I represented myself and she represented herself.
  • In terms of the contract I sold to her my car (with registration number TWG 345 GP) for R11 000 (eleven thousand rand). I had to deliver the car to her on 21 March. She had to pay the amount of R11 000 (eleven thousand rand) into my bank account on or before 21 March.
  • I delivered the car to her on the 21st of March.
  • The 21st of March has already passed and she has not paid the R 11 000.00 (eleven thousand rand) into my bank account.
  • I am claiming from Sue the R 11 000.00 (eleven thousand rand) which she owes me in terms of the contract.

Current state of affairs:

  • It has been three months since Sue had to pay for the car. Sue has not paid back the R 11 000.00 (eleven thousand rand) which I demanded from her to pay back to me.

Steps taken to resolve problem:

  • I phoned Sue on 22 March to confirm that she made payment on the previous day. She did not pick up her phone.
  • I went to her house on 28 March and she told me again that she will follow up with her bank in the next few days.
  • On the 6th of April I phoned Sue again I left a voice message asking that she pay the money she owes me.
  • I delivered a Letter of Demand to Sue 15 days ago.

TIP: The waiting lines at the Court may be long. Take along something to read or do while waiting.

What are the possible steps that the opposing party can take?

  • The opposing party may settle the claim (in this scenario you should supply a written receipt) and the court should be notified immediately of the payment.
  • The opposing party may deliver a written statement with the nature of his / her defence and particulars of the grounds on which it is based (this will be delivered to the clerk and a copy will be sent to you).
  • The opposing party may institute a counterclaim that contains the particulars of the grounds of his / her claim.
  • The opposing party may simply appear at the date of the hearing to oppose your claim.

The court date will remain the same regardless of which of the above happens.

TIP: You may at any time before judgment ask the court to change something on your claim or abandon it altogether if no party to the proceedings are prejudiced.

What happens at the hearing?

You should personally appear in court. No legal representation such as an advocate or attorney may appear on your behalf.

Any official language of South Africa may be used in court. If an interpreter is necessary you may make arrangements with the clerk of the court for the services of an interpreter – the sooner the better.

The presiding officer (“commissioner”) will assist both parties in explaining the procedure.

At the court hearing the procedures are informal and simple. The commissioner of the court will request you to state your case. The facts should be stated as briefly as possible.

The commissioner asks all the questions and may give you an opportunity to also ask questions. Both parties may call their witnesses and the commissioner may question them. If the commissioner feels that it is necessary he / she will not question all the witnesses. It is generally a good idea to check with the clerk of the court to see if an interpreter should be arranged if a language other than English will be used.

It is necessary that you bring along all your documents (including the written proof that your summons was served on the opposing party) and the proof of your claim.

Audio recordings and other proof may be accepted by the court.

You should answer the questions and submit your proof. Neither party is automatically entitled to question the other party or his / her witnesses, but the commissioner may ask questions of any of the parties or witnesses.

You should listen attentively to what the opposing party says. When it is your turn to speak, bring to the attention of the commissioner any facts which in your opinion the opposing party did not present correctly.

If an opposing party is not present at the hearing the court may give judgment against the opposing party (called “default judgment”). The court may decide in favour of either party or decide that the evidence does not enable it to give a judgment (called “absolution from the instance”). In case of the latter, the matter cannot proceed before the court, but you may be able to restart the process and bring it to court again if you have more and/or better evidence for your claim.

TIP: The court is open to the public and you can bring your friends and/or family members along for emotional support. It remains a court, so be sure that you are on time, dressed neatly and at all times respect the dignity of the court. Don’t eat, drink or speak loudly in the court and make sure that your cell phone is switched off.

What happens after the decision?

Appeal / review

No appeal is possible, but review is a possibility.
The grounds of review are:

  • The court has no jurisdiction.
  • An interest in the cause, bias, malice, or corruption on the part of the Commissioner.
  • Gross irregularity of the proceedings.

The review process can be complicated, is done in a higher court than the Small Claims Court and falls outside of the scope of this guide. It is advisable to seek the assistance of a qualified attorney if you believe a review is necessary in your case.

What happens if there is an order to pay and the opposing party does not pay?

If the Small Claims Court makes an order in your favour and the opposing party fails to pay the money or ordered instalment within such time as determined in the order, or otherwise within 10 working days, you may approach the clerk of the Court, although it would be advisable to seek legal advice at this stage.

When you approach the clerk of the Court, you should give the clerk a written application accompanied by the judgment from the Small Claims Court and an affidavit that specifically sets out the amount that the opposing party still owes you and how you calculated that amount. The clerk will then assist you with the process to be followed to get your money from the opposing party.

TIP: If the opposing party refuses to pay regardless of an order in your favor, the process becomes more complicated and you should approach a lawyer to assist you in enforcing the order.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is mediation?

It is a process by which a mediator assists the parties in a legal dispute by:

  • Facilitating discussions between the parties,
  • Assisting them in identifying issues in dispute,
  • Exploring areas of compromise,
  • Generating options in an attempt to resolve the dispute.
  • Mediation is an alternative to having the dispute resolved in court.

2. What are the advantages of mediation?

There is nothing to lose and much to gain from participating in mediation.
Very often, better outcomes are reached for children and families.

  •  It offers speedy resolution of disputes.
  • It is considerably cheaper than litigation.
  • It provides a win-win situation for both parties in a dispute.
  • The process is flexible and avoids technicalities.
  • It is a voluntary process.
  • Parties can use their own languages.

3. Where do I go for mediation services?

a. You approach the mediation clerk in the Civil Section at the Magistrate’s Court which has jurisdiction in respect of the dispute.
b. The clerk will arrange for the parties to attend a meeting to assess whether their dispute can be submitted to a mediator.
c. Mediation will be rendered at dedicated rooms identified as Therisano Centres.

Mediation services are offered at the following courts:


  1. Johannesburg Central
  2. Kagiso
  3. Mogale City Krugersdorp 
  4. Palm Ridge
  5. Pretoria North
  6. Randburg
  7. Sebokeng
  8. Soshanguve
  9. Soweto

North West

  1. Mmabatho
  2. Moretele
  3. Potchefstroom

This pilot project will be rolled out to other provinces over the next two years.

4. Which matters can be referred for mediation?

Most disputes are appropriate for mediation, as long as the court has jurisdiction in respect of the matter. Examples are contractual claims; motor vehicle collision and other damages claims; neighbourhood disputes and family disputes.

5. Will there be court fees?

There are no court fees, but the mediator is entitled to charge a fee according to a fixed tariff, except where the services of a mediator are provided free of charge. The parties contribute equally to this fee, which must be paid before the mediation commences.

6. Who will be the mediator?

The mediator will be a person that the parties choose, with the help of the mediation clerk, from a panel of accredited mediators appointed by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services. All mediators have undergone mediation training. Some specialise in particular types of matters, such as family disputes. The clerk will advise you as to which of the mediators is appropriate for your dispute, depending on factors such as area of practice and experience.

7. Will the mediator be a lawyer?

Not necessarily. Many mediators are lawyers, but they may also be experts from other professions. For example, engineers are often mediators in building construction disputes. Family disputes are often mediated by social workers or psychologists.

8. Will the mediator tell the parties who is right and who is wrong?

No, a mediator does not judge the parties or tell them what the solution to their dispute is.

  •  It is for them to find a solution that meets their needs and interests.
  • The task of the mediator is to assist them to do this.
  • The mediator will help them to identify the real issues and explore different options for resolving those issues.
  • The mediator assists them, using skills acquired through training and experience, to diffuse conflict and explore options for settlement.
  • If the parties reach agreement the mediator will assist them to draft a settlement agreement.
  • The settlement agreement is enforceable in law as a contract. It can be given additional strength by having it made an order of court, if the parties agree to this.
  • If the parties are unable to settle their dispute through mediation then they may still resort to litigation and adjudication.

9. Do I need to be represented by a lawyer?

No, parties have the right to be represented if they want to be, but this is not obligatory. Parties who are represented will be responsible for the fees of their legal practitioners. It is the task of the mediator to ensure a fair and structured process with a level playing field, irrespective of whether parties are represented by lawyers or not. Parties can also request that a friend or family member be allowed to be present during the mediation to lend support.

10. Can mediation be used where litigation has already commenced?

Yes, matters can be referred for mediation at any stage during the court process before a judgement has been given.

11. How long does the process of mediation take?

Simple disputes can often be resolved within a few days. More complex disputes may take a few weeks.

12. What happens in an event where mediation has resulted in a positive outcome, but one of the parties later fails to comply with their agreement?

If the agreement has been made an order of the court then it can be enforced through the Sheriff of the Court in the same way as any order of a civil court. If it has not been made an order of the court, then it is enforceable in the law in the same way as any other legal binding agreement.

Mediation Guide

Mediation Guide

Step 1

Go to the office of the mediation clerk at the court.
Explain your problem to the clerk.

Mediation Guide – Before court proceedings have started

Step 2
a) If mediation is possible the clerk will help you fill in the application form.
Alternatively you can click to download the (form 1) and take it to the mediation clerk before you have started court proceedings.

Mediation Guide – Court proceedings

b) If you are already engaged in court proceedings then click  to use the (form 3).

The Clerk will invite you and the other party to come to a meeting to discuss and agreement to mediate.

At this meeting:

  • The clerk will explain mediation.
  • The parties sign a written agreement to mediate.
  • The clerk will assist the parties to choose a mediator.
  • The date and time of the mediation will be agreed and fees paid according to a fixed tariff and shared equally by both parties.

Step 4
The mediator and the parties meet on a suitable date for a mediation session.

  • The mediator explains mediation rules and procedure.
  • Each party tells their story.
  • The mediator may ask questions.
  • The mediator suggests solutions.
  • Parties discuss what is the best solution.

Step 5
An agreement is reached.

  • The mediator helps parties to write an agreement.
  • Agreement may be made an order of court if the parties wish.


Civil Unions

Civil Unions

The Civil Union Act 17 0f 2006 came into operation on the 30 November 2006 and allows anyone – regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, race, ethnic or social origin – to enter into a civil union through either a registered marriage or civil partnership and provides for the legal consequences of the solemnisation and registration of civil unions

Civil unions may be conducted by:
• designated marriage officers for specific religious denominations or organisations
• designated officers employed by the Department of Home Affairs and the Magistrates’ Courts
At least two competent witnesses must be present at the ceremony.

Requirements for registering a Civil Union
• Both persons must be 18 years or older to enter into a Civil Union
• Both persons may not be already married in terms of any other Act. E.g. Marriage Act or the Customary Marriages Act.
• The Marriage Officer must have the requisite documents listed below before he/she can register and conclude the civil union.
• Two competent witnesses must be present to witness the civil union.

Documents required to conclude a Civil Union
• Valid South African identity books for both persons entering into the Civil Union
• A valid passport if one of the partners is a foreign national
• A completed Form DHA-1763 (Declaration for the Purpose of Marriage)
• Form DHA-1766 (Civil Union register), which must be completed by the marriage officer
• A completed Form DHA-1764 (Registration of a Civil Union) in which the couple must indicate whether or not they are entering into a Civil Union marriage or a Civil Union partnership
• A copy of the Divorce Order if one of the partners was previously married but subsequently divorced.
If any of the required documentation cannot be produced, one of the partners must submit an affidavit confirming the documents cannot be made available for the purpose of concluding the Civil Union.

Registration of civil unions
• The prospective civil union partners must individually and in writing declare their willingness to enter into the civil union by signing the prescribed documents in the presence of two witnesses.
• The marriage officer and two witnesses must signed the prescribed document.
• The Marriage officer must issue the parties with a registration certificate stating that they have under this Act entered into a marriage or civil partnership as prima facie proof of the civil union.

Legal consequences of civil union
The same legal consequences that apply to the Marriage act extends to all valid legal civil unions.

Customary Marriages

Customary Marriages

In South Africa, the definition of a customary marriage is one that is “negotiated, celebrated or concluded according to any of the systems of indigenous African customary law which exist in South Africa”.

This does not include marriages concluded in accordance with Hindu, Muslim or other religious rites.
The Act
Customary Marriages are governed by the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act 120 of 1998 which came into operation on 15 November 2000.
Requirements for a valid customary marriage
For a customary marriage to be recognised as a valid marriage, it has to have been entered into before 15 November 2000.

However, if entered into after 15 November 2000 it must comply with the following requirements:
• The marriage must be negotiated, entered into or celebrated in accordance with customary law
• The prospective spouses must be above the age of 18 years
• Both prospective spouses must consent to the marriage
The parents of a prospective spouse who is a minor must consent to the marriage.
If he/she has no parents, then his or her legal guardian must consent.
If the parents or legal guardian cannot consent, a Commissioner of Child Welfare can be approached for consent.
Where consent is refused by either of the parents, the legal guardian or the Commissioner of Child Welfare, only a judge of the High Court may consider granting consent
If either of the prospective spouses is already a spouse in a civil marriage, a customary marriage cannot be entered into during the subsistence of the civil marriage. A similar provision is also applied to customary marriages entered into from 1 December 1988.
Although there is no restriction on the number of customary marriages that a man may enter into, no further customary marriage may be entered into unless an order of court regulating the future matrimonial property system of his marriages has been obtained.

Registering customary marriages
Customary marriages must be registered within three months of taking place.
This can be done at any office of the Department of Home Affairs or through a designated traditional leader in areas where there are no Home Affairs offices.
The following people should present themselves at either a Home Affairs office or a traditional leader in order to register a customary marriage:
• the two spouses (with copies of their valid identity books and a lobola agreement, if available)
• at least one witness from the bride’s family
• at least one witness from the groom’s family
• and/or the representative of each of the families
In the event that the spouses were minors (or one was a minor) at the time of the customary marriage, the parents should also be present when the request to register the marriage is made.
Customary marriages are registered by completing BI-1699 and paying the required fees. An acknowledgement of receipt BI-1700 will then be issued by the Department.

Registering more than one customary marriage
If a male person is already in a customary marriage and wishes to enter into another customary marriage he has to, at his own cost, get a court order from a competent court which will regulate his future matrimonial property system.
It is also possible for a male person who is already in a customary marriage to enter into a civil marriage.
They should follow the normal procedure for civil marriages.
Proprietary consequences
• The marriage concluded before the Act commenced is governed by customary law.
• The marriage concluded after the Act commenced is a marriage in community of property.

Dissolution of Customary marriage
A customary marriage may only be dissolved by a court by a decree of divorce on the ground of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage