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Freedom of Religion South Africa v Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Others (CCT320/17) [2019] ZACC 34

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Freedom of Religion South Africa v Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Others (CCT320/17) [2019] ZACC 34

19th September 2019

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Click here to read the full judgment on Saflii

[1] The adage “spare the rod, spoil the child” stares us in the face here.[1]  It challenges our foresight and capacity to bring Solomonic wisdom to bear on a sensitive, complex and controversial matter of national importance – child discipline.

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[2] Many parents contend that they bear the primary duty to lovingly raise their children in terms of their religious, cultural and other “non-harmful” beliefs, which entail the administration of moderate and reasonable chastisement, without being exposed to the risk of criminal charges or a criminal record.

[3] The entitlement of parents to administer that chastisement without attracting adverse legal consequences was declared unconstitutional by the High of South Africa, Gauteng Local Division, Johannesburg (High Court).  This declaration was based on the infringement of several constitutional rights that a child enjoys.[2]

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[4] This then is an application for leave to challenge the declaration of constitutional invalidity of a parent’s right to administer reasonable and moderate chastisement to her child.  It remains a valid defence against a charge of common assault throughout South Africa, except for Gauteng.

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