Corporal punishment is unconstitutional in South Africa, the country’s top court ruled on Wednesday, in a case involving a 13-year-old boy who was slapped by his father.
Concise News reports that South African common law allowed defendants to justify corporal punishment by arguing that they had used “moderate and reasonable chastisement.”
But the Constitutional Court unanimously ruled that this violates the South African constitution’s provisions on human dignity, freedom from violence and children’s best interests.
“Children may still be effectively disciplined without resorting to moderate and reasonable chastisement,” the court said in a summary of the ruling.
“Less restrictive means to achieve discipline are available.”
In the case at hand, the father had slapped his 13-year-old son after he caught him looking at pornographic material.
Freedom of Religion South Africa, a non-profit Christian organisation, had brought the case before the Constitutional Court, arguing that the Bible allows and calls for appropriate corporal punishment of children.
The group said that parents who physically punish their children will now be committing the crime of assault.
“It is disturbing … that the rights of parents to raise their children according to their own convictions and what they believe to be in the best interest of their children has not been upheld,” Daniela Ellerbeck, a lawyer for the organisation, said in a statement.
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu had argued in the case that parents would not be prevented from disciplining their children in line with their faith, but would only be prohibited from using corporal punishment to do so.
Government reacts to viral video of cop hanging onto car
In related news, in an official statement issued on Facebook, the Gauteng Department of Community Safety has responded to the viral video of a woman trying to evade arrest.
“The Gauteng Department of Community Safety condemns with contempt the conduct of a 27-year-old female driver who was seen driving her car with a female traffic officer from Gauteng Traffic Police on her bonnet,” the post started off.
The post revealed the incident took place on 13 September in Krugersdorp.
The officer was writing the female driver a traffic fine for using her phone while driving when she decided to make a break for it.
“The driver was immediately arrested for failing to comply with an instruction of a traffic officer, reckless driving and resisting arrest.
“A fine was also issued for driving while on a cell phone,” the post added.
Departmental Spokesperson, Ofentse Morwane, said the driver’s actions were “reckless” and “arrogant”.
“Drivers are supposed to conduct themselves in a manner that is acceptable and respect authorities,” Morwane stressed.