WATCH: Mother hitting disabled son in public won’t automatically be punished

By Drum Digital
14 December 2016

A video went viral showing a mother hitting her disabled child at a Fourways Gardens restaurant in Johannesburg. Yet, it might not amount to criminal charges against the woman

because corporal punishment by parents is not deemed to be a crime.

This revelation comes from Joan Van Niekerk, president of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

In the video, the woman seems angry with her disabled son, who refuses to eat his food. She yells at him and hits him several times.

People at the restaurant are seen coming to intervene while others take out their cell phones to record the incident. The woman gets angry when she is confronted and attacks her more son more aggressively.

“Corporal punishment by parents in the home, unless the child is a foster child, is not illegal. However, there is a strong move now to illegalise all corporal punishment of children,” says Van Niekerk.

Danny Carson, the good citizen who tried to intervene, tells DRUM that he shot the video with his phone and put it on social media because he did not know how to help the child.  The woman had been aggressive towards him when he tried to stop her, he said.

“I told her to stop her s**t immediately but she didn’t,” he says. “I uploaded the video because, we as people, we don’t know our rights and the law, and I wanted someone to intervene.”

The video caught the attention of Roberto Menego, co-founder of the Brothers For Life (BFL) and Sisters For Life (SFL) Against Abuse organisations.

He opened a two case assault, for both assaulting a minor and one of the bystanders who tried to intervene, at the Douglasdale Police Station in Fourways.

“The SAPS and social workers are now working together along with the Department of Social Development,” he says.

Despite this, Van Niekerk says it will be difficult to prosecute the abusive mother because corporal punishment at home is not illegal.

“It is not a prosecutable offence by law and sadly some parents think it’s their right to discipline their children who they see as possessions and belongings and not as people who have rights,” says.


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