Smacking a child may cost R300

Parents will have to cough up at least R300 for giving children a clip on the ear if they are prosecuted under the proposed Children’s Act, News24 reported on Wednesday.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Tuesday told the parliamentary social welfare services portfolio committee that unless clause 139 of the Children’s Act was changed, “any minor smack on the buttocks or rap over the knuckles” would be illegal and punishable by law.

“It means that the NPA would be obliged to subject each and every complaint filed by children against their parents to the legal process,” said Advocate Rodney de Kock, the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Western Cape.

“A decision on whether sufficient pain has been inflicted [for the complaint to qualify] does not lie with the NPA.
The Act will stipulate that each smack or clip is an offence and should be treated as such.”

The new law stipulates that absolutely no form of corporal punishment is legal and a child may not be punished in a way that is “cruel, inhuman or degrading”.

The Act also negates the defence of physical punishment as “a reasonable form of discipline” as contained in the existing Child Care Act.

Cheryllyn Dudley of the African Christian Democratic Party asked if it was not possible to refer in the legislation to “reasonable forms of corporal punishment” because, said Dudley, a hiding was an important parental tool.

Committee chairperson advocate Mike Masutha of the African National Congress informed her that the law made provision for training in alternative disciplinary methods. - Sapa

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