Children are vulnerable members of society that are in need of special protection since they are dependent on others. Children cannot fight for themselves, which means that it’s up to their guardians, caretakers, and the state to care for and protect them. This is done by ensuring that there is a safety net when their guardians, caretakers or outside factors fail them or threaten their well-being. This safety net is the state and their legislation regarding children to keep them safe. The way that South Africa’s laws take care of children is through the Constitution and how it has made children’s rights a priority. There are lawyers that specialise in children’s rights. A children’s rights attorney is the person to talk to if anyone ever suspects that a child’s rights are being violated.

Section 28 in the Constitution of South Africa is devoted to children (South African citizens under the age of 18), it outlines the basic rights that they are entitled to. These are specialised rights that are additionally applied along with the basic human rights that everyone, both adults and children, has. Section 28 reads as follows:

Every child has the right to –

  1. A name and a nationality from birth;
  2. Family care or parental care, or to appropriate alternative care when removed from the family environment;
  3. Basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services, and social services;
  4. Be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation;
  5. Be protected from exploitative labor practices.
  6. Not be required or permitted to perform work or provide services that –
    • Are inappropriate for a person of that child’s age; or
    • Place at risk the child’s well-being, education, physical or mental health or spiritual, moral or social development;
  7. Not be detained except as a measure of last resort, in which case, in addition to the rights a child enjoys under sections 12 and 35, the child may be detained only for the shortest appropriate period of time, and has the right to be –
    • Kept separately from detained persons over the age of 18 years; and
    • Treated in a manner, and kept in conditions, that take account of the child’s age;
  8. Have a legal practitioner assigned to the child by the state, and at state expense, in civil proceedings affecting the child, if substantial injustice would otherwise result; and
  9. Not be used directly in armed conflict, and to be protected in times of armed conflict.

A child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.

This section of the constitution gives minors the right to a citizenship, name, and care. Children should, at all times, be protected, kept nourished, sheltered, and not neglected or degraded. Whilst under the legal working age, children should not be put to work as this could conflict with development or education. These are the basic rights that every child has, in addition to, human rights.

Are you looking for a lawyer in Durban? We have a team of specialised attorneys who are equipped to help you with your needs. Contact Durban Law Offices on 031 836 0307 or email us at karen@durbanlawoffices.co.za so that one of our lawyers may assist you and/or provide you with advice.