Events

Deputy Minister encourages fathers to pay maintenance

By Glory Msungwa, Internal Communication

Prior to the celebration of Father’s Day and as part of its commitment to deal with maintenance defaulters, the department embarked on a march to encourage men to pay maintenance for their children in Durban recently.

The march, which took place on 19 June 2015, was a partnership between the department and the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) which aimed to deal with maintenance defaulters in the region. The march was also joined by the Legal Aid South Africa, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), and the eThekwini Municipality.

Officials and various stakeholders led by the Justice and Constitutional Development Deputy Minister, Mr John Jeffery, painted the streets of the Durban city centre with yellow and black t-shirts, bearing the slogan; “Pay your maintenance, it’s the right thing to do.”

A recent study by the Centre for Social Development in Africa, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Sonke Gender Justice showed that one father in two was absent from his child’s life.

Addressing the march, Deputy Minister Jeffery said the department continues to fight an uphill battle against fathers who evade child maintenance orders. “The number of children who suffer from parental lack of support is continually increasing at an alarming rate,” he remarked.

The deputy minister revealed that every three months, there are about 45 000 new maintenance applications, with the number of maintenance orders granted increasing by 56% from 2011/12 to 2013/14 financial years.

“We are working tirelessly in trying to improve the maintenance system through the mediation services launched in December 2014. We have now increased maintenance officers and investigators whilst ensuring that maintenance is paid out directly to the beneficiaries through the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) system,” Mr Jeffery shared, adding that 98% of the monies is paid electronically except for those who do not have bank accounts.

The department has embarked on a number of initiatives aimed at forcing fathers to cough up maintenance for their children. According to the deputy minister, 59% of children are raised by single mothers. “We are working on an agreement with prominent companies where employers will be given a mandate to do a routine follow up to check if employees pay maintenance for their children,” he said. 

Supporting the initiative, Judge Fikile Mokgohloa of the Durban High Court said the increase in the number of absent fathers in their children’s lives had contributed to an increase of juvenile offenders seen in the courts. “It is very difficult to discipline an angry child who lacks support of a fatherly figure in life and to take care of their needs,” she said.

“Let us try by all means to create a safe and comfortable home to our children. Before celebrating father’s day, do your duties as a father before you get that gift,” encouraged Judge Mokgohloa.

According to KwaZulu-Natal Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Moipane Noko, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), had dealt with 53 237 maintenance cases in the financial year 2014/2015 in the region.

The department provided 1 000 stickers with the message “Pay your maintenance, it’s the right thing to do” to the provincial chairperson of SANTACO, Mr Boyi Zondi, to further distribute to taxi owners and drivers..

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Published: 24 Jun 2015