In 2017, after a father had beaten his 13-year old son “in a manner that exceeded the bounds of reasonable chastisement”, the South African High Court ruled that spanking of children by their guardians and parents was illegal.
Today, that ruling has been upheld by South Africa’s Constitutional court, and spanking of children has been declared a violation of the South African constitution.
In the past, groups such as Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) have fought to have the High Court’s ruling set aside . Their argument is that there is a “clear distinction between such chastisement and abuse and parents should be allowed to apply “reasonable” and “moderate” chastisement on their children.”
This ruling drafted by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng is timely because in the past couple of weeks, there has been an alarming surge of gender based violence and violence towards children. Also, parents and guardians accused of assaulting their children in the name of spanking, can no longer invoke the common law defense of reasonable chastisement.
This also means that in the nearest future, there may be development of laws criminalizing the act of spanking.
The ruling has however been welcomed by Children’s rights activists and groups as well as organisations such as the University of Pretoria’s Center for Child Law.
So, dear South African Parents, it is time to throw that belt away and focus on other means of correcting your child.