South Africa has banned corporal punishment in every setting, except for one, the home. Despite having ratified international conventions where in corporal punishment is abolished, South Africa is yet to abolish it and adopt legislation to support and sustain the ban on corporal chastisement.
South Africa has not been completely mute on the topic of corporal punishment in the home. More than a decade ago there was a proposition to abolish corporal punishment and include it in the then Children’s Bill in clause 139. However, this clause never saw the light of day. A similar attempt to amend the Children’s Act has very recently been abolished leaving the common law defense known as ‘reasonable chastisement’ available to parents.
The recent case that re-sparked this contentious debate is the YG v S (2018 (1) SACR 64 (GJ)). The High Court mero motu considered the constitutionality of the common law defense and in the end found it to be unconstitutional. In an unexpected move, one of the applicants applied to the Constitutional Court for both standing and leave to appeal and judgment has been reserved.
This mini-dissertation explores the many aspects with regards to corporal punishment by evaluating the international conventions, legislation and case law. A limited comparative component is included and some of the physiological effects of corporal punishment on children are considered. The focus is however on the YG case in the hope that it paved the way to change the defense of ‘reasonable’ chastisement. This defense defies children’s rights and is therefore unreasonable.
Mini Dissertation (LLM)--University of Pretoria, 2019.