Courts - Africa - Children's law inadequate
The current legislation on children needs to be altered to
protect them from social ills.
These include maltreatment, abuse, neglect, degradation, discrimination,
exploitation and any other physical and moral harm or hazards.
This according to Dr Maria Mabetoa who is a Chief Director
responsible for children's rights in the Department of Social
Dr Mabetoa today briefed the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee
on Social Development on the department's proposed changes
to the Children's Bill.
She said the old legislation no longer protected children
"The 1983 Childcare Act does not really talk to issues
that are in the constitution and in the UN [United Nations]
Convention on the rights of the child," she said.
Dr Mabetoa said the proposed Children's Bill would make provision
for the structure, services and means for promoting and monitoring
the sound physical, intellectual, emotional and social development
The draft law would also seek to strengthen and develop community
structures, which could assist in providing care and protection
Dr Mabetoa added that the significant amendments included
the inclusion of rights and responsibilities of children,
which were not covered in the current Act.
The changes also included specific provision for the participation
of children in matters affecting them especially in courts
and decisions affecting them.
"The bill proposes to lower the age of maturity and provides
for parental responsibilities and rights agreements.
"The age of maturity was very confusing because it differed
from one situation to another but in the bill it has been
lowered to 18 years but in the Children's Act it varies from
18 to 21 years," Dr Mabetoa said.
The bill also proposes that Partial Care facilities be registered
so that the department could properly monitor such.
Partial Care is provided when a person, with or without reward,
takes care of more than six children on behalf of their parents
An extension of the rights of unmarried fathers and provision
for High Court procedure to allow persons other than parents
to gain rights with regard to children, are also provided
"It also includes the need to formally recognise and
provide for child-headed households and the protection of
children," she added.
The Department of Justice and Constitutional
Development is expected to brief the committee on the functioning,
powers and jurisdiction of children's courts, tomorrow.
Meanwhile, public hearings on the bill are scheduled to take
place next week.