The Children’s Act 38 of 2005 is the primary source of all children’s rights in the Republic of South Africa. Recent Court judgments have influenced and required of the Legislature to amend specific provisions in the Act that are lacking alignment with other relevant legislation already regulating matters that the Act touches.
The Children’s Amendment Bill specifically sought to introduce several amendments into the Act. These amendments are mainly around issues of sexual offences and related matters, conditions and provisions for people who work with children, and policy around parental rights.
The courts pushed for these amendments to promote the aims of the Bill of Rights and the interpretation of the ever changing socio-economic issues of the peoples of South Africa. The enactment of these amendments raise interesting questions for the Department of Social Services as it directly challenges it to hire more qualified social workers and/or requires the training of new social workers. It also makes the adoption process much stricter by taking the definition of sexual offences as contained in the Sexual Offences Act and applying it to the offences one is deemed to be unsuitable in working with children and/or adopting. With these amendments, adoption is accessible to most people through reduction of costs and it is also strict in a sense that it limits people convicted with sexual offences, as provided by the Sexual Offences Act, from working with children. It is an interesting balance as we know that a lot of children in South Africa are in need of adoption to have a better life and opportunities.