ConCourt ruling will 'destroy' families, says religious organisation

For SA have argued that Constitutional Court ruling on spanking will destroy families
For SA have argued that Constitutional Court ruling on spanking will destroy families
Image: 123RF/stockstudio44

The Freedom of Religion South Africa (For SA) has warned that preventing parents from spanking their children at home is setting a dangerous precedent and will ultimately destroy families as a bedrock of society.

The Constitutional Court on Wednesday ruled that parents no longer have a defence if they are accused of assault for smacking their children at home.

The apex court upheld an earlier ruling by the high court to do away with the common-law defense of reasonable chastisement when spanking a child. Daniela Ellerbeck attorney at For SA said she was disturbed by the ruling of the court.

“It is disturbing...that the right 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. It sets a very dangerous precedent in that the state can dictate to people of faith how to read and live out the scriptures, thereby seriously eroding their right to religious freedom,” said Ellerbeck.


LISTEN | What impact will the ConCourt ruling on spanking have?


“For many, they will have no choice, but to obey God rather than the law. As a result, good parents of faith, who only want what is best for their children, will potentially see their families torn apart as is happening in other countries where physical correction has been banned. This will destroy families as the bedrock of our society.”

The issue reached the apex court for a final decision after civil society group For SA challenged a 2017 ruling by the South Gauteng High Court that effectively ruled that it was illegal for parents to spank their children.

The case has its origins in the conviction of a father for assaulting his 13-year-old son in Johannesburg. The father later argued, in his defence, that he was administering moderate and reasonable chastisement under common law.

But the high court ruled that this was unconstitutional on the grounds that it violated the child’s right to equal protection of the law, dignity, freedom from all forms of violence and degradation, bodily and psychological integrity, and the child’s right not to be discriminated against based on age.

Ellerbeck said the judgment delivered by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng would make criminals of many people who believe that the scriptures permit them to correct their children physically at times.

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