Interdicts are important in the South African legal system, serving as potent tools to protect rights and enforce obligations. This article analyses interdicts within the South African context, exploring their process, effectiveness, and key considerations. In addition, this article aims to offer a comprehensive understanding of their role in South African legal practice by delving into the requirements, types, and applications of interdicts.

Understanding Interdicts: 

In the context of South African law, interdicts are court orders that either restrain individuals from engaging in specific actions or compel them to fulfil certain obligations. It is crucial to note that the term “interdict” refers to the type of order sought rather than a specific court procedure.

There are two main types of interdicts in South Africa:

  1. Prohibitory Interdicts: These aim to prevent or halt someone from engaging in certain activities that may infringe upon the rights of others.
  1. Mandatory Interdicts: Also known as mandamus, these compel individuals to perform specific actions or fulfil particular duties.

The Process of Obtaining an Interdict 

  1. Application Procedure: To obtain an interdict in South Africa, the typical route is through an application procedure. The applicant, must submit an application to the appropriate court with jurisdiction, outlining the nature of the interdict sought and providing supporting evidence.
  2. Action Procedure: In some cases, interdicts can be pursued through legal action but this is uncommon as it is less expeditious. 

 Requirements for Interdicts 

  1. Clear Rights: Before a court can grant an interdict, it must be established that the applicant possesses a clear right. This entails two crucial steps. Firstly, the right must exist in law, encompassing a broad range of rights recognised by both common and statute law. Secondly, the applicant must prove the existence of the right in fact, substantiating it with evidence. The burden of proof lies with the applicant, who must demonstrate the existence of the right on a balance of probabilities.
  2. Actual or Reasonable Apprehension of Injury: The occurrence or reasonable expectation of an injury is another vital requirement for obtaining an interdict. In this context, injury extends beyond physical harm or financial loss and includes interference with rights. To prove injury, the applicant must present evidence of wrongful conduct by the respondent. The injury must be continuing or imminent, and the applicant must establish a reasonable apprehension of harm based on well-grounded facts. While the apprehension need not be indisputable, it should be reasonable on a balance of probabilities.
  3. Absence of Satisfactory Remedy: One final requirement for an interdict is the absence of any other ordinary or satisfactory remedy available to the applicant. If alternative forms of redress exist that would adequately address the situation, the court may refuse to grant an interdict. However, certain exceptions exist, such as when the respondent lacks assets or money, the injury is a continuous violation of rights, or it is challenging to assess the damages caused.

Effectiveness of Interdicts 

  1. Final Interdicts: Final interdicts provide definitive enforcement of clear rights and protection against injuries. Once granted, they serve as powerful legal instruments to ensure compliance with obligations and safeguard rights. To obtain a final interdict, the applicant must establish the existence of a clear right, prove the occurrence or reasonable apprehension of an injury, and demonstrate the absence of any other satisfactory remedy.
  2. Interim Interdicts: Interim interdicts offer temporary relief pending the resolution of a dispute. While not providing final enforcement, they can still effectively protect rights and prevent potential harm. The granting of an interim interdict requires a prima facie right, a well-grounded apprehension of irreparable harm, a balance of convenience, and the absence of any other satisfactory remedy.

Practical Considerations and South African Context 

The granting of interdicts in South Africa is subject to judicial discretion. Courts carefully consider the evidence presented, the balance of convenience, and the interests of justice before making a decision. This discretion ensures that interdicts are granted in situations where they are necessary and appropriate.

South African Legal Framework: 

Interdicts in South Africa are rooted in both common law and statute law. South African case law has shaped the legal principles governing interdicts, which have established precedents and guidelines for their application.


Interdicts are important in the South African legal system, serving as powerful tools to protect rights, enforce obligations, and prevent harm. By understanding interdicts’ requirements, types, and practical considerations, individuals can effectively seek legal recourse and safeguard their rights within the South African legal framework.

Given the complexity of interdict proceedings, it is advisable for individuals seeking interdicts to consult with experienced legal practitioners. Expert advice can help navigate the intricacies of the process, ensuring the best chances of success. Contact an expert at SchoemanLaw Inc for your litigation needs