JOHANNESBURG: Parents and caregivers of children taken away from their primary caregivers over suspected neglect have been given a voice.
The Constitutional Court yesterday (Wednesday) declared aspects of the Children's Act unconstitutional, empowering parents who would have otherwise had to watch from the sidelines as social workers decided the fate of their children to voice their side of the story.
Yesterday's ruling was simply confirmation of last year's order by the Pretoria High Court, which emanated from the August 2010 raid by social workers, police and city officials who pounced on people found to be begging on Pretoria streets while accompanied by children.
Despite not having a court order for the raids, the officials had taken to the streets, taking a three-year-old girl from a man who repairs shoes on a busy intersection in Pretoria and two other girls aged one and four from their blind mother who begged on the streets for a living.
The cobbler had taken his daughter to work as his partner was in hospital giving birth to another child, while the blind woman had been accompanied by an assistant.
With the help of the Centre for Child Law and Lawyers for Human rights, the man and woman approached the court to try and get their children back. The two girls were returned to their mother 11 days after the raid, while the man's daughter was returned later although a social worker was appointed for supervision.
The Pretoria High Court had declared sections 151 and 152 of the Children's Act unconstitutional, saying they provided for a child to be removed from family care by state officials and placed in temporary safe care, but that they failed to provide for judicial review of the removal and placement decisions made by social workers or police. …