Child, 12, beaten over chores could test new 'hiding' judgment

2017-10-27 14:31


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Cape Town – A Nyanga woman may be among the first parents or guardians to be charged in terms of new child chastisement limitations, after allegedly assaulting a 12-year-old girl who took too long to return from an errand.

The woman, who may not be named to protect the identity of the child, appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate's Court on Friday.

She allegedly beat the girl with an electrical cord and a wooden spoon after the 12-year-old took too long to get back home from the shop where she had been sent to buy a cabbage.

The 47-year-old woman from Brown's Farm, an impoverished informal settlement in Cape Town, is regarded as a mother by the child, but is believed to be just a relative.

ALSO READ: Spanking judgment sets a dangerous precedent - religious organisation

The child has been taken to a place of safety as the court process unfolds, Magistrate Goolam Bawa heard.

The alleged beating was reported by a teacher who the child had confided in. It was allegedly not the first time she had been severely punished for an infraction.

The woman was released with a warning, and ordered not to contact witnesses.

"Should you do so, I will keep you in custody," said Bawa.

She is due back in court on December 7.

'Religious rights, practices should not trump child's rights'

Last week, Judge Raylene Keightley handed down a controversial judgment in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg regarding the chastisement of children.

She ruled that the common law defence of "reasonable chastisement" was no longer a valid defence for parents or guardians disciplining children.

This was after a Muslim father severely beat his child for watching pornography.

ALSO READ: You can't beat your kids

Keightley ruled that religious rights and practices could not trump a child's right to not be assaulted.

Beating a child at school as punishment is already outlawed.

However, she said parents who administer corporal punishment should not be randomly prosecuted and punished, and that other interventions should be explored first.

This has created a massive debate over where to draw the line between chastisement and assault, and whether a smack on the hand will lead to a parent being treated as a criminal.

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