DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Gender, Youth and People with Disabilities
In July 2011, the Democratic Alliance in Gauteng launched its child maintenance campaign “Opertaion Etsa Se Nepahetseng – Operation Take Responsibility.” The campaign aimed at educating the public around not only the importance of child maintenance, but also the process of obtaining a child maintenance order. Since the launch of the campaign, it has become alarmingly clear that people do not know how to apply for maintenance.
To instate a maintenance order, a person needs to visit the Magistrate office in the area that they reside. From there they will be directed to the maintenance court. At the maintenance court an official will assist in processing all the relevant documentation and set up a garnishing order. Once in place, the responsible party, either the mother or father of the child, will be required by law to pay the garnishing order. This order is put in to place to ensure the up keep and well being of the child.
In spite of the law, many parents who are required to pay the garnishing order abstain from their duty to do so. Not only are they contravening the law, but they are also neglecting the rights of their children. These orders are put in place, not as a punishment to the parent, but as a safe guard to protect the rights of children who cannot fend for themselves. It is to ensure that children can be clothed, fed, educated and afforded the quality of life they deserve, as enshrined by the Constitution.
Due to the high numbers of defaulters not brought to book, the campaign went one step further – to amend the Provincial laws that deal with maintenance defaulters. Modelled on a similar campaign that was successfully run in the DA led Western Cape, a proposal was put forward in the Gauteng Legislature that defaulters be arrested at road-blocks, and that the Maintenance court improves its ability to assist people with long outstanding maintenance claims. The motion was adopted on the 18th November 2011, and is soon to be implemented throughout the Province.
With these safe guards now in place, I have no doubt that the number of children who will benefit from having their inalienable rights protected will increase.