SAMJ: South African Medical Journal
On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
STRODE, Ann; SLACK, Catherine and ESSACK, Zaynab. Child consent in South African law: implications for researchers, service providers and policy-makers. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2010, vol.100, n.4, pp. 247-249. ISSN 2078-5135.
Children under 18 are legal minors who, in South African law, are not fully capable of acting independently without assistance from parents/legal guardians. However, in recognition of the evolving capacity of children, there are exceptional circumstances where the law has granted minors the capacity to act independently. We describe legal norms for child consent to health-related interventions in South Africa, and argue that the South African Parliament has taken an inconsistent approach to: the capacity of children to consent; the persons able to consent when children do not have capacity; and restrictions on the autonomy of children or their proxies to consent. In addition, the rationale for the differing age limitations, capacity requirements and public policy restrictions has not been specified. These inconsistencies make it difficult for stakeholders interacting with children to ensure that they act lawfully.