The Committee conducted public hearings on the Children’s Amendment Bill. Presentations were received from the Association for Social Workers in Private Practice; Fathers 4 Justice; Sonke Gender Justice; Solidarity Guild for Social Workers; Cause for Justice; Women’s Legal Centre; and the Catholic Institute for Education, among others.
The organisations made recommendations for changes and clarifications in some sections of the Bill. Some of the organisations advocated for the rights of fathers. They claimed that there were injustices in divorce proceedings that discriminated against fathers having access to their children and exercising parental rights and responsibilities.
The Committee heard that many early childhood development centres and facilities are under-resourced and in a very bad state. Adequate support needed to be provided to teachers at these centres.
The Committee heard that intersex corrective surgery on children was a human rights violation tantamount to genital mutilation and that it was necessary for children to give informed consent to such procedures.
Concerns were also raised about measures dealing with the marriage of children.
The Chairperson said that he felt bad for questioning the integrity of the Committee coordinator in the previous meeting and that the behaviour towards the coordinator was unacceptable. The Chairperson apologised for his behaviour.
The South African Association for Social Workers in Private Practice (SAASWIPP)
Ms Jessie Thompson, SAASWIP, said her organisation was a professional association of social workers in private practice. She highlighted the difference between foster care and adoption, stating that adoption was more permanent compared to foster care which was a temporary family reunification. The factors impacting adjustment and the risk mitigating actions on what could possibly go wrong during the adoption process were outlined. She proposed that section 239 be amended to provide for a letter to be issued within 30 days of request and for reasons for the failure to issue the letter to be sent to court within 14 days. She proposed that section 46 be amended to allow for the placement of an adoptable child not in need of care and protection with adoptive parents in line with the court decision. On the standards and quality of service, she said that the definition of social worker should be changed to ‘adoption social worker’. She proposed the amendment of section 251 to allow for the accreditation of adoption social workers.
Solidarity Guild for Social Workers
Ms Marisa Engelbrecht, Social Workers Guild, Solidarity, provided context on registered adoptions in South Africa from 2004 to 2018 and the reasoning behind their comments on the amendments to the legislation. She said that section 249 should be deleted, considering that a receipt during an adoption could appear to be a sale of the child, whereas section 229 clearly highlighted the purpose of an adoption. On the amendment of Section 250, she said that the section should be deleted. She said that the support from the Department was not enough and questioned the resources available from the Department for the adoption process.
The Chairperson asked about a reference to one million children in the graph in the presentation. Ms Engelbrecht said it referred to the children that were born in South Africa annually.
The Chairperson asked about the figure for registered adoptions. Ms Engelbrecht said it refers to finalised adoptions annually.
The chairperson asked for an interpretation for the decline in the finalised adoptions. Ms Engelbrecht said that the reason was red tape in the long process of adoption.
Catholic Institute of Education
Mr Mduduzi Qwabe, Policy, Advocacy and Government Relations Manager, Catholic Institute of Education, there were concerns about changing the word must to may in section 35(c) and section 106. He proposed amendments to section 35(e), section 47 and section 97 and said that the deletion of section 74 had not been accounted for; if it was not retained this would invade the privacy of the children. The deletion of section 249 was also not accounted for; it opened the door to children being trafficked under adoption. He said that the norms and standards for early childhood development (ECD) centres were welcomed, as well as the steps that were being taken to migrate ECD from the Department of Social Development (DSD) to the Department of Basic Education (DBE). This would ensure cognitive development for the children. The reality was that legislation did not change behaviour and there were loopholes in the law. He said that the Child Justice Act recommendations were ignored in many communities and that the best interests of the child must be realised.
Women’s Legal Centre
Ms Mandi Mudarikwa, Attorney, Women’s Legal Centre, said that the Centre was a feminist organisation that advanced the rights of women through litigation, advocacy and training. The presentation would focus on two points that affected women. On child marriages, she referred to the definition of a child/forced marriage according to clause 6 of the Amendment Bill. Statistics given for child marriages in South Africa were that 82 boys and 53 girls under the age of 18 were married in terms of civil law and seven boys and 139 girls were married in terms of customary law. The statistics were not a true reflection of the number of child marriages in the country. More black girls than boys were married before their 18th birthday. A lot of the marriages forced the young girls to drop out of school. There was an increased risk of maternal death, a higher risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and more poverty and economic dependency on male counterparts.
On the proposed section 6(a) amendments, she said that the prohibition of child marriages was welcomed, but there were concerns that the amendment might result in failing to clearly state that child marriages were prohibited. The Bill allowing girls as young as 15 to get married might still put young girls at a disadvantage. She proposed that the amendment should clearly state that the legal age to marry was 18 regardless of sex and that the bill should clearly define ‘child marriage’. She said that section 12(2)(b) of the Children’s Act on the child giving consent to marriage should also be amended because the age was not stated as 18. Section 150 of the Children’s Act should be amended to include married children in the provisions for children in need of care and protection. This would ensure that there were avenues for health and social support mechanisms available for the child and for the reporting of suspicion of child marriages by social workers. On the language recommendations, she proposed that the definitions of ‘child marriage’ and ‘forced marriage’ be included in the Children’s Act and that section 12(2)(a) and section 12(2)(b) to be merged into one. On the rights of birth mothers in the context of adoption, she said that birth mothers’ wishes were not being respected during the adoption process, which forced mothers who wanted closed adoptions to have foster care rights. Mothers were being forced to care for children even though the child had been given up for adoption. She proposed that section 233 (3) should be amended to allow for a parent’s confidentiality and privacy during the adoption process and highlighted the post-adoption agreements.
Intersex South Africa
Ms Nthabiseng Mokoena, Activist, Intersex South Africa (ISSA), provided a definition of intersex. She said that ISSA was making a submission because intersex conditions were viewed as disorders and curable conditions and subjective surgical interventions were undertaken without considering the mental health of the child. She defined intersex genital mutilation (IGM) as harmful cosmetic surgical treatments where a doctor would decide the sex of the child and said that IGM procedures were a violation of human rights. The demands of intersex people were outlined, and she acknowledged the proposed amendments relating to genital mutilation. She made recommendations that included a more visible focus on genital mutilation, and the inclusion of two sub-sections under section 12(3) which must address two separate matters: intersex genital mutilation and female genital mutilation. Intersex genital mutilation should be prohibited completely unless consent was given by the child and the child’s sex characteristics presented a health and mental risk. Other countries had already taken the necessary steps to prevent the violation of human rights in IGM.
Sonke Gender Justice
Mr Suleiman Henry, Senior Trainer, Sonke Gender Justice made a presentation on corporal punishment in relation to ending violence of all forms against children. The court case of Freedom of Religion South Africa versus the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and others was outlined. On the National Strategic Plan on Gender Based Violence Femicide (NSP-GBVF), he said that the goals of the plan needed to be considered when the Children’s Bill was developed. He said the most important and relevant pillars of the NSP-GBVF were pillar two and pillar six. In his recommendations, he said that a definition of corporal punishment should be included.
In a presentation on the rights of unmarried fathers, he said that the deletion of ‘in good faith’ in section 21(1)(b)(ii) and (iii) was welcomed. In section 21(1)(3)(a) the term social service practitioner was appropriate and should replace social worker. He said that some words need to be changed and inserted in Section 24(1), Section 24(3), Section 41(b) and (c).
Van Wyk & Associates
Ms Elisabeth Van Wyk, Tax Practitioner and Lawyer, Van Wyk and Associates, said that there was a need for simpler, contextually appropriate operating standards for ECD’s by officials. She referred to the recent history of tfaced by ECDs in reopening and operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. She provided an outline of court cases and subsidy payment challenges relating to decisions taken by the DSD.
South African Parenting Programme Implementers Network (SAPPIN)
Ms Blanche Rezant, Programme Manager, Parent Centre, SAPPIN, said their submissions on the Bill included framing ECD programmes to include the definition provided in the bill and to ensure that the positive impact of optimal parenting skills on children’s self-esteem, school achievement and behaviour was established. SAPPIN supported the banning of corporal punishment in ensuring that abuse of children and physical punishment was labelled as inhumane. She said parents required support services to facilitate non-violent discipline strategies. The recommendations by SAPPIN included prevention and early intervention programmes such as support for parents, guardians and caregivers. The Bill should acknowledge the Constitutional Court’s ruling about unconstitutional chastisement.
Fathers 4 Justice South Africa
Mr Gary da Silva, Chairperson, Fathers 4 Justice, said that the organisation had been in existence for more than 19 years in South Africa. It focused on the fight for children’s and fathers’ rights to be enforced after divorce or separation of the parents. Violence of any form was not acceptable to the organisation and it agreed with the laws that protected all innocent parties. He said that divorce and separation in South Africa was unnecessary and that the only beneficiaries in the process were the parties who were supposed to assist the parents. There were more than 23 000 divorces in South Africa in 2019 with cost of the processes being between R100 000 and R2 million. He said that the legal process in child related cases took up to five to eight years with costs being between R600 000 to R2 million per individual parent. He outlined two cases of members of the organisation who had lost their children after the divorce process with high legal expenses. Many fathers in South Africa had spent a lot of money to have their rights and their children’s rights enforced while the government painted men as useless and not taking responsibility for their children. He said that mothers were automatically awarded custody of the children and that fathers were partially or totally alienated from their children, according to a study which had been conducted. Some fathers were forced to accept the legal proceedings without a fight because of a lack of funds. In an effort to protect women from men who behaved badly, the system had become biased against all men. Men were being dealt with as guilty and unworthy instead of innocent until proven guilty.
Mr da Silva said that in most cases protection orders were issued after false accusations. These included false rape claims, false child molestation claims, false domestic abuse claims, false drug abuse claims and false alcohol abuse claims. The courts would not charge the mother and her legal team for perjury for the false claims, while the father’s rights were ignored in the process because of the gender bias against men. He referred to a parental alienation syndrome and said that it should already have been classified as child abuse. More than a third of members had said that they had been threatened by the legal representatives of the mothers if they continued to enforce the rights of the father and the child. Statements and letters had been prepared for submission to the Law Society of South Africa, the Legal Practices Council, the Health Professionals Council and the Department of Justice asking if it was legal for the opposing counsel and psychologists to issue scripts similar to an order of the court. Only one response has been received from the Health Professionals Council stating that it was illegal for legal representatives or psychologists to issue this script. He outlined the changes and recommendations for the Amendment Bill. These included instituting 50/50 responsibility and rights custody care by both biological parents irrespective of whether the parents had a relationship or not, and the removal of sections 19, 20 and 21 because they were gender biased, hostile and contrary to the Bill of Rights.
Cause for Justice
Ms Liesl Pretorius, Attorney and Legal Advisor, Cause for Justice, outlined the actions that had been taken by the organization to protect children from harmful media content, including the launching of an online training course during Child Protection week. She said that the wording in section 6(b) was concerning and it should be reworded and re-inserted. She said that the legislation should not only include what people should not do but also what should be done. The bill needed to be concluded as soon as possible.
In section 6(b)(2), there was a lack of clarity on the meaning of media, a lack of clarity on the definition of potentially disturbing and harmful materials and a lack of clarity on the meaning of premature exposure to adult experiences. She said that there should be a clear meaning of what and who the media were, and it should include broadcasters, creators, producers and distributors of films and advertisements. Accountable persons should also be clearly defined. It was limited to parents and caregivers. Other accountable persons should be included. The definition of potentially disturbing and harmful materials should also be clarified to be objective. The meaning of premature exposure to adult experiences should also be clarified to include those of a sexual nature and substance abuse. The Film and Publications Act classification already had an objective meaning of this. The statement must protect in the bill should include a standard of compliance. She said that Section 305 should be amended to include that the contravention of Section 6(b) is an offence. The previous versions of the Bill had proposals to amend Section 294 on genetic origins of a child. Subsection 294(2) should not be supported for inclusion in the new Amendment Bill because there was no constitutional ground for amending the section and there was a need for adoptions and prioritising the lives of existing children in South Africa.
We Are Fathers We Are Parents Forum
Mr Castro Musinyali, Chairperson, We Are Fathers We Are Parents Forum, said that the organization was inspired by the experiences of many fathers and their children. The focus of their proposals on the Bill was the issue of unmarried fathers and ensuring that the child was not a victim in the name of protecting the child. Section 19 was supposed to provide fairness for fathers, but it was unconstitutional because it divided and discriminated against fathers based on their marital status. The mother was automatically given parental rights and responsibilities.
Historically, fathers were supposed to work in the cities away from their families and the mothers and grandparents would bear the responsibility of raising the child, which was normal, but it could not become a culture where 70 percent of children were fatherless. The statistics could show that not all fathers were deadbeats but had been forcefully removed from their children’s lives because of the law. The Children’s Act provided for the child to be taken anywhere by the mother without the father’s consent as long as it was motivated by section 7 on the best interests of the child The visitation rules and parental plans for fathers needed to be reviewed. Fathers were granted fewer hours with their children which was not fair on the child. The issue needed to be addressed by reviewing section 21 on married fathers. Sections 21 and 19 were sexist because they discriminated against fathers.
False allegations were used by mothers to win custody over the children and fathers had criminal records because of these false claims. The misapplication of the law turned children into victims, which was not right because the law was supposed to be a referee in the best interests of the child. On the timeframe for resolving litigation issues, the timeframe should be clarified so that litigations were resolved within 90 days without any maternal preference. Research needed to be conducted on the prevalent issues faced by children without fathers. The Children’s Court should be given more power and jurisdiction to deal with the issues of children instead of the High Court because there was bias, and the interests of the children were not being considered. He said that there was an issue with grandparents automatically gaining parental rights and responsibilities for children whose mothers had passed away.
ENGO Child and Youth Care Centres
Ms Christa Meree, Director for Residential Child Care, ENGO, said that section 105(5)(b)(iii) recommendations were that child protection orders render active reunification and integration services. On section 159, she said it should clearly indicate which social worker was responsible for writing and submitting a final extension report and that a six-month period should be allowed to renew lapsed orders and issue interim orders. On section 167(2)(a), she said that clarification was required on the type of order being referred to when a child was admitted into a youth care centre> Her organisation supported a requirement that children should not be placed in temporary safe care for more than 72 hours. On section 170 (4)(a), she said that there should be clarification on the social worker responsible when a child absconded and on section 191 (m), she said that there should not be an inclusion of programmes for children with disruptive behaviour disorders within the youth care centres. It put the other children in harm's way and the children were not generally receptive to the programmes. On Section 191 (n), she said that there was about after-care services being provided to children younger than 18 returning to families and those older than 18 who were leaving a centre. The term younger children should be clarified.
Ms Elle-Marie de Klerk said that section 45(2)(a) presented a challenge . Statistics had been collected from seven courts in the Ekurhuleni central cluster to show the implementation of the Children’s Act. The Children’s Court dealt with 1 898 matters in 2003 and in 2019, 9 222 matters were dealt with. She said that most of the matters focussed on non-compliance on Section 35 of the Children’s Act where parents did not communicate with the courts on new developments concerning the children and refused to allow one another to see the children. The section could create severe backlogs for the Children’s Court where the matters are not finalised.
Prof David Hall said that he would share his experiences and observations from working in the ECD sector. He provided a background on his professional work in South Africa and in the UK and said that the inverse care law should apply in South African ECD facilities. He said the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) showed that South Africa had one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. He highlighted the parent courses that were conducted to help parents talk to and understand their children. He listed the various ECD facilities in South Africa where there has been noticeable progress and development.
Ms B Masango (DA) thanked the presenters. To SAASWIPP, she said that in the past there had been failed adoptions and requested the statistics on the matter. She also asked who must do the accreditation according to the Amendment Bill. She said that the presentation also went into detail on the importance for adoptions to happen in a specialised and rigorous manner. In the past South African children had been trafficked and turned into sex slaves in other countries. She asked about the gaps in the law and requested statistics on trafficked children. She asked if adoptions had been withdrawn because of the lengthy process and the child growing older.
To the Catholic Institute of Education, she said that the presentation requested the reinstatement of Section 249 and commented that the impact of the may and must statements was very specific. She also appreciated how a practical inter-sectoral collaboration of the different departments and stakeholders was highlighted in the presentation.
She noted that the presentation by the Women’s Legal Centre mentioned that young girls were forced to disclose their intention of giving up their child for adoption and asked who was forcing the young girls to reveal this information. Was it the adoption agency or the Department? To ISSA, she said that their presentation was an eye-opener because some of the surgical ‘corrections’ lasted a lifetime, and the impact of the corrections should be understood.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) said that it had been stated twice, both by Solidarity and the Women’s Legal Centre, that some officials forced mothers not to put up their children for adoption and the child was then taken into the foster care system. She said that this showed the anti-adoption sentiment which had been discussed in the previous day’s engagements. If the DSD had this anti-adoption sentiment, then the issue was bigger than anticipated. She asked the organisations that dealt with adoptions about the action that could be taken from an education and public perception point of view to resolve the anti-adoption sentiment within the Department and in society. A mechanism needed to be developed for officials who prevented the adoption process and forced mothers not to give up children. On the protection of privacy and confidentiality during the adoption process, she said that the recommendations that were made by the Women’s Legal Centre needed to be considered.
She noted that the Women’s Legal Centre had provided suggestions on child marriages.She asked about the gaps in preventing early child marriages and why children were not being protected as they should be.
To the Catholic Institute of Education, she said that two important issues had been raised about the lack of intersectoral collaborations between the DSD and the Department of Basic Education and about the deletion of Section 249 which would lead to trafficking and illegal adoptions. The issues should be carefully considered by the Committee.
To Solidarity and SAASWIPP, she said that a press statement read by Solidarity said that the deletion of Section 249 was because of companies that charged high fees for adoption and child trafficking. She asked about the fees that were involved in the adoption process and the statistics that showed that adoption in South Africa led to child trafficking. She asked if there had been an increase in child abandonment during COVID-19 lockdown. Media reports had suggested this, but the DSD had denied it.
Ms L Arries (EFF) said that there needed to be equality in the foster care and adoption grants because there was a huge difference between them. To the Women’s Legal Centre, she asked whether it was possible for a 16-year-old to give consent to be sexually active and said that the reality was that children younger than 18 were already sexually active. She asked whether these children could still be considered minors and whether forced marriages must be criminalised and who should be held accountable. She noted that ISSA deemed Iintersexs surgery to be a wrongful act and she asked about the appropriate age for a child to give consent for the surgery and who must be held accountable.
Ms G Opperman (DA) asked ISSA about current statistics on intersex mutilation where unnecessary surgery was being performed and about the number of disciplinary charges in the medical field arising from this.
She noted that the latest statistics provided by the Women’s Legal Centre were that from 2017 on 139 girls were married under customary law. She asked how many of these girls were black. Since religious marriages were not considered valid or registered, she wanted an estimate of the annual number of religious child marriages. On the link between poverty and economic dependency, she asked why the presentation stated that there was a higher risk for contracting HIV/AIDS.
Ms A Abrahams (DA) said to Solidarity that their presentation had stated that some departments set up panels to discuss adoptions. She asked if the panels were determined by any policy or regulations or whether they were set up at the discretion of the heads of department deputy directors general within the DSD.
On the Catholic Institute of Education presentation, she noted that a lot of youth were facing secondary victimisation in the appeal processes of dismissed teachers. This was concerning.
She thanked ISSA for the information that had been shared and said that the issue of consent and the age of maturity had been discussed by the committee in the past week. She asked whether 16 years was an appropriate age to choose a preferred sex or if 18 should be the standard age. She asked if the cases should be handled on a case-by-case method where decisions could be made with the child and where legislation was in place to protect the child.
Ms M Sukers (ACDP) said that the practice where mothers were forced to put their children into foster care instead of adoption was prevalent because there was no proper oversight over the foster care system and a lack of capacity within the DSD. She asked SAASWIPP for recommendations on how to address the issue while the Bill is being amended. She asked about the importance of a High Court order in intervening in cases where mothers were forced to put their children into foster care. This was a major issue and had an impact on the mindset of children. She also asked about interventions at a community level that could raise awareness and understanding about adoption.
She asked ISSA about the appropriate age where children could make a sound decision to consent to any surgical treatment. On informed consent, she said that it was important for the patient to be fully informed before any medical procedure. She asked about the role of parents as primary caregivers to children in providing guidance to the child and the role of the DSD in assisting parents. She also asked for further elaboration on the consequences of surgical interventions on minor children and the long-term effects. On child marriages, she said that she was the offspring of a young girl who had been married as a child. She asked where the marriages were prevalent and the culture groups where this practice often occurred.
Ms J Manganye (ANC) asked Solidarity about adoptions by single parents and married couples. On the long process of adoption, she said the government and whoever was dealing with adoption should conduct more research. To Women’s Legal Centre, she said that the question of who was regarded as a child according to the law had been responded to and she appreciated that a feminist group had informed the committee. She said that South Africans hid behind culture when child marriages happened, and she asked what the challenge was between culture and the law.
Mr D Stock (ANC) said the Women’s Legal Centre presentation on child marriages, had highlighted that the proposed bill did not clearly define what a child marriage or forced marriage was. He asked what the implication would be if the proposed definitions were not included.
On adoptions that had failed, Ms Paula Hildebrand, National Chairperson, SAASWIPP, said that the statistics could not be shared because the data was collected internally by SAASWIPP. There were failed adoptions, but the number was extremely low . There was no reason for failure because highly trained persons handled and managed the adoptions.
Ms Thompson said that the concern raised that the removal of Section 249 would increase the trafficking of children had been covered.
Solidarity Guild for Social Workers
On anti-adoption sentiment within the DSD, Ms Engelbrecht said that it was important to find out why the sentiment existed through research. On the Department’s panels, she said that no information on regulations had been collected on the panel looking into adoption matters. On what could be done to address the issue of grants, she said that money talked. If money was given to foster or adopt a child then more people would do it, but the reasons for fostering and adopting would not be genuine. No n profit organisations needed to be involved in this process and develop a plan because they would have a better understanding of the communities. On the rights of fathers, she said that fathers did have rights but anything that involved a child could not have a one-rule-fits-all approach. The scenario needed to be considered, especially if the mother had been raped or had sex under the influence and fell pregnant, because every case was unique. There were challenges in the adoption process. The child’s needs must be considered.
Women’s Legal Centre
On the implications of the Bill passing without definitions being changed, Ms Mudarikwa said that the protection would only be for children under the age of 15. On the reasons for child marriages and the challenge of culture and law, she said that the culture versus law issue had been dealt with by the Constitutional Court in several judgments. Everyone had the right to live and practice their custom, but the Constitution was the supreme law. Child marriages violated the rights of girls to equality because they were younger. On the legal gaps on child marriages, she said that there were several. The law allowed these children to get married legally, there was an intersection between religion, culture and the law and there was misinformation on the rights of parents and children. Other issues included a lack of accountability, poverty, patriarchy and sexism where young girls were still being seen as commodities for families. On the issue of HIV/AIDS, she said that most of the girls were being married off to sexually experienced men with HIV. There was a power imbalance in a child being married off to an older person, because the child could not negotiate about safe sex and contraceptives.
Intersex South Africa
On the consequences of putting off surgery, Ms Mokoena said that there were no effects on the child except that the child needed support and affirmation that sexual characteristics were diverse. The consequences of the surgery were that children had health, mental and family issues because of the irreversible surgical procedures. On the role of parents in supporting their children, she said that it was difficult for parents to play a supportive role when they themselves did not have information on the matter of intersex children. On the appropriate age of consent, she said that at 12 years the body started changing because of puberty, so between 12 and 18 the child would be able to give full consent. If the age and maturity of the child was questionable then the child would not have the full capacity to give full consent and the surgery would have to be postponed. On the statistics for disciplinary action against medical professionals, she said that it was difficult to obtain these in South Africa. Many surgical procedures were done in secret and there was incorrect coding by doctors. Postponing the surgery should be normalised because it was safer.
Ms Van der Merwe agreed with the chairperson that the challenges in the ECD sector and the others listed in the presentations should be taken to heart. To Fathers 4 Justice South Africa and the We Are Fathers We Are Parents Forum, she said that she was separated from her father at age 10 after her parents divorced and she understood the litigation process. She said that she also understood the pleas by the two organisations and the impact separation had on the life of the children. Fathers could not be discriminated against and she welcomed the suggestions that had been presented. To Sonke Gender Justice and SAPPIN, she said that in the previous engagements there had been a lot of emphasis on the banning of corporal punishment and on positive parenting programmes to be rolled out by the Department. Considering the constraints with the budget and limited resources, she asked whether the inclusion of anti-violence, anti-gender-based violence and other programmes in the school curriculum would be a better approach to teaching children about their rights and providing them with information on what violence was.
Ms Abrahams asked ENGO for clarity on the recommendation that children with disruptive behaviour disorders should be placed in specific child and youth care centres (CYCCs). She asked what would happen if a behavioural CYCC was full and whether other CYCC’s would still take the child. Fathers 4 Justice, had provided a lot of statistics and she requested that a presentation on the information be submitted to the committee. She noted the referral pathways mentioned in the SAPPIN presentation and asked how parents were referred to the organisation.
Ms Masango said that during the presentation by Van Wyk and Associates, she had been struck by the need for inter-sectoral collaboration across government. She also appreciated the statistics that were provided by Fathers 4 Justice and requested a document on the statistics.
On the inclusion of awareness programmes in the school curriculum, Ms Rezant said that there were a lot of one-sided programmes. A child would be taught in the programme, but the parent was not, and this affected the environment of the child. Holistic programmes had to show a reduction of violence in the household so that both the parent and the child were engaged on the issue and in the programme. She said that the inclusion of the programmes in the curriculum was welcomed but it was not holistic. On the referral pathways, she said that there was fragmented service delivery where referrals were received from the DSD, the Department of Home Affairs or the Department of Health. She said that parents would find a parent support service when they felt they needed it. Referrals were received from the Department of Labour, and the Department of Justice for parenting programmes.
Fathers 4 Justice South Africa
Mr da Silva said that the document on the presentation had already been forwarded to the committee secretary. He said that the organisation dealt with fathers who did not know that the mother was pregnant and were only informed once the abortion or adoption took place. He said that the issues could be resolved but the challenge was that fathers had been removed from the lives of their children.
Ms Masango thanked the presenters for the presentations and for empowering the committee with information before deliberations on the Amendment Bill. She said Ms de Klerk had raised the issue of the courts situation in Ekurhuleni, and asked what the recommendations were so that the presentation could be clearly understood. In Professor Hall’s presentation, she said that although the challenges of ECD had been highlighted by the other speakers, the focus had been on the children and not on support for teachers. .
Ms Arries said that the cases in the Children’s Court were a real issue that had to be addressed by creating some kind of unity to fast-track the process in the courts.
The Chairperson said that the inverse care law emphasised that resources needed to be redirected to ensure that there was an infrastructure for the disadvantaged and to motivate parents that they had a role to play in building the educational foundation for their children.
Prof Hall said that many parents needed help because they were overwhelmed by poverty and single-headed households. Practitioners in the ECD centres felt undervalued, underpaid, under-supported and under-privileged. Being valued would motivate them. Once basic materials were provided to these practitioners, such as crayons and paper, they became more motivated. Before more money could be pumped into the ECD sector, the teachers needed to be appreciated. The participating NGOs were providing assistance.
The Chairperson noted the legal advice from Ms de Klerk on a user friendly law that ensured that the objectives of protecting children were properly executed.
The Chairperson thanked the support staff for the work that had been done and the presenters for engaging in the public hearings which she said were robust, interactive, frank, brutal and clinical. If the literature was collated and packaged properly it would empower fruitful engagements. The most critical aspect was that when children’s protection was being discussed, the Committee needed to ensure that it had healthy insight into the legislation that would be implemented. Members needed to be able to access this information so that the law could be championed.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Catholic Institute of Education submission
- van Wyk and Associates presentation
- Say Yes SA submission
- De Klerk submission
- Sonke Gender Justice Presentation
- InterSex South Africa presentation
- SAPPIN Presentation
- Catholic Institute of Education Presentation
- Solidarity Guild for Social Workers submission
- Women's Legal Centre Presentation
- Fathers for Justice Submission
- Media Statement: Rights of Intersex Children Take Centre Stage on Day 3 of Children’s Amendment Bill Public Hearings
- SAASWIPP Presentation
- SAASWIPP Presentation
- Cause for Justice Submission
- Cause for Justice Presentation
- ENGO Child Youth Care Centre Presentation
- ENGO Child Youth Care Centre Submission
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