South Africa like most African countries have children who grow up without fathers. In most black traditions, if the father divorces the mother he also leaves the children he had with the ex wife.
Many mothers were then left to fend for themselves and their children. Life would then become so hard that the mother had to leave the children to look for work in the big cities.
The maintenance Act brought relief to those mothers who had fathers of their children run away from their responsibility. A woman can approach the court that can then force the father to do right by his children.
The world has changed dramatically now that most fathers want to be involved in the raising of their children instead of just turning in to ATMs. Children now grow up knowing their fathers personally instead of as providers of money only.
A father who had a child with Congolese woman took the Department of Home Affairs to court arguing that he be allowed to register the birth of his child. Section 9 and 10 of Birth and Death Registration Act only allow a mother to register the birth and death of the child. The sections however allow for the registration in the case where the mother gives consent or jointly register the birth of the child with the father, usually if they are married to each other.
The Centre for Child Law took section 9 and 10 to the Constitutional Court with the aim of declaring the two sections unconstitutional. They believed that section 9 and 10 discriminated against fathers who are not married to mothers of their children.
The Constitutional Court however refused to declare the sections as unconstitutional or invalid. The court held that section 9 and 10 could be read properly without any confusion or them infringing on the rights of fathers.
The court noted that declaring both sections 9 and 10 as invalid could open the door for unscrupulous people to claim children without having the proper identification or the legal right to be parents. This could potentially lead to more cases of children being trafficked by people who claim to be their biological fathers or even step fathers.
This case highlights a change in the mindset of fathers and a step in the right direction. No more maintenance for mothers since now fathers are demanding equal rights with mothers. I salute fathers who want to raise their own children regardless of whether they are married to those mothers or not.
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