Govt seeks smacking ban

2012-08-28 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Legislation that would make it a crime for parents to administer corporal punishment to their children is again on the table. And the issue again has political and other interested parties hot under the collar.

In 2007, the issue of corporal punishment was left out of the Children’s Act of 2005, when it caused a national outcry.

Now the issue is back on the table as part of amendments to the Children’s Act.

Agnus Muller, the director tasked with the Children’s Act in the Department of Social Development, said in answer to a question that a policy document was being drafted that would forbid parents from administering corporal punishment to their children.

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said last week the amendments were coming.

She said the department intended to submit laws in the 2014/15 year that would govern corporal punishment by parents.

African Christian Democratic Party leader the Reverend Kenneth Meshoe said it was short- sighted and irresponsible to deny parents the right to punish their children.

“Today we sit with seven-year-old boys who rape girls. The government with its uninformed policy directions is busy wiping out a whole generation of kids.

“It confuses discipline with abuse and will make criminals of parents.”

Patrick Solomons, director of the children’s protection organisation Molo Songololo, said although he welcomed the new proposals, there was a lot of concern that corporal punishment was on on the increase in the public domain, like schools.

“If we cannot even enforce existing laws in schools, how can we enforce it in people’s homes?”

Democratic Alliance MP Mike Waters said it was parents’ prerogative to decide how to discipline their children. He said the government should not become involved before there was abuse.

Waters also cautioned the minister to rather focus on enforcing existing parts of the Children’s Act, like the register for the protection of children and appointing more social workers to apply the law.

“Apply the existing Children’s Act properly, rather than giving the act even wider scope,” he said.

Muller said committees had already discussed the issue in October and November last year, as well as in May this year.

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