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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versión On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versión impresa ISSN 0041-4751

Resumen

BEKINK, Bernard. South Africa's highest court deals a mortal blow to the common-law defence of parental authority to administer reasonable and moderate correction: Reflecting on the case of Freedom of Religion SA v Minister of Justice and Others 2020 (1) SA1 (CC). Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2021, vol.61, n.1, pp.39-56. ISSN 2224-7912.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2224-7912/2021/v61n1a4.

The debate in legal circles in South Africa about the lawfulness of the common-law defence, until recently available to parents, of parental entitlement to administer moderate and reasonable chastisement to their children has been going on for more than a hundred years. Notwithstanding the long duration of the debate and the important effect of the constitutional developments in South Africa under the Constitution of the RSA, 1996, in conjunction with the requirements of international law, legal certainty about this particular legal question was only achieved in September 2019. In Freedom of Religion SA v Minister of Justice and Others, the Constitutional Court, the highest court in South Africa, decided that the common-law defence of parental authority to administer moderate and reasonable chastisement to their children, even in the privacy of their own homes, is unconstitutional and therefore invalid. After weighing up all competing interests and rights of both parents and their children, the court came to the final conclusion that no lawful justification remains for the retention of the defence of parental entitlement to administer physical chastisement to their children, not even on religious grounds, and that the limitation of the rights of children who are subjected to such practices are unjustified and not legally permissible. Unless legal amendments are effected in South Africa in the future, this decision of the court dealt parents' entitlement to administer moderate and reasonable chastisement to their children a mortal blow.

Palabras clave : moderate and reasonable chastisement; corporal punishment; common-law; best interest; assault; dignity; limitation of rights; parental authority; education; violence.

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