In July 2018, South Africa’s draft Children’s Third Amendment Bill was published and opened for comment by the Department of Social Development. The Bill proposes a number of amendments to the Children’s Act, including repealing the common law defence of reasonable chastisement that allows parents and carers to lawfully subject children to corporal punishment. The Bill also prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of children and recommends the adoption of programmes promoting positive discipline at home and in alternative care are available across the country.
The Global Initiative submitted comments on the Bill before the 7 September deadline, which were endorsed by our national partners Save the Children South Africa, The Peace Centre and Sonke Gender Justice. Our submission welcomes the repeal of the “moderate and reasonable chastisement” defence, but recommends that it is accompanied by the insertion of a statement which explicitly prohibits the use of corporal punishment in all settings.
In 2007, a first amendment to the Children’s Act was proposed. It included a clause prohibiting corporal punishment in the home. However, the prohibiting clause was eventually excised by the South African Portfolio Committee on Social Development on the grounds that further investigation was needed.
Read more about South Africa’s progress towards prohibition in our country report, including the Government’s commitment to prohibit, made under the Universal Periodic Review.