Parliament, Wednesday, 10 November 2021 – The Portfolio Committee on Social Development successfully held public hearings on the Children’s Amendment Bill in OR Tambo District Municipality yesterday. Participants expressed their support for the Bill and shared their concerns and views regarding Section 21 of the Bill, which deals with the parental responsibility of unmarried fathers.
The amendment of Section 21 of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 seeks to address the historical problem of unmarried fathers who lack access to their children. Although traditional leaders supported the Bill, they urged the committee to consider issues regarding customary practices that unmarried fathers still need to fulfil. They were in favour of the provision of the amendment Bill regarding unmarried fathers’ access to their children.
The traditional leaders emphasised that in traditional communities, parental responsibility is not limited to the child’s biological parents, but includes the extended family and the entire community. Participants supporting the proposed clause argued that preventing unmarried fathers from seeing their children disadvantages the child more than the father.
The participants urged the committee to ensure that the Bill focuses more on the best interests of the child. They proposed that unmarried fathers should be allowed to register their children with their surnames, if the maternal family and the child agree that the biological father can have full parental responsibility of the child.
The participants told the committee that laws against the sale of alcohol and drugs to children should be strengthened. They said communities must not allow shebeens to be positioned near schools, as this leads to children abusing alcohol just like their parents.
They told the committee that resources, such as park facilities, are not equally provisioned between rural and urban children. Urban children have better quality park facilities, they said, while those in rural areas are ignored by their local municipalities. However, the committee told residents to first participate in the processes to produce their wards’ Independent Development Plans, where they must raise all their children’s needs to ensure that facilities such as parks can be budgeted for.
The committee appreciated the participation of the people of the OR Tambo District Municipality and the contributions they made to the Bill. The Chairperson of the committee, Ms Nonkosi Mvana, was encouraged by their attendance and meaningful input. “The meeting of the mixture of traditional leaders, traditional healers, representatives of community-based organisations, old and young people communicates a clear message of your commitment to your children,” added Ms Mvana.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, MS NONKOSI MVANA.
For media enquiries or interviews with the Chairperson, please contact the committee’s Media Officer:
Name: Mava Lukani
Parliamentary Communication Services
Cell: 081 503 1840
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