SOCIAL WORK AND CHILD LAW IN SOUTH AFRICA – A LEGAL PERSPECTIVE
Keywords:social workers, responsibility, law relating to children
The newspaper headline “Dad Loses Kids Over Lobola Debt” graced the media a year ago. In this case (Knowledge Kgaugelo Majola v Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development; Jabulani Place of Safety; the Minister of Safety and Security;
and Cynthia Mosia, case number: 1786/11 (unreported), hereinafter “the Majola case”) two toddlers were removed from the care of their father, the applicant, ten days after the burial of their mother. The basis for their removal was that their father had not rendered an amount of money outstanding towards ilobolo. The toddlers’ mother died before this amount could be settled. After removal, the children were initially placed in the care of their aunt and later moved to a state-care facility. The social worker involved informed the
father that the children would not be returned to him unless he settled the outstanding ilobolo. The court ordered the first and second respondents to return the minor children to the care and custody of the applicant. The court ruled that the conduct by the police and the department of social services of removing the children from the care of their father was unlawful. It further ordered the social worker involved to furnish reasons why she should not be reported for unprofessional conduct. This case has triggered concerns about the responsibility carried by social workers of applying the law, specifically law relating to children, when executing their
duties. This paper seeks to consider social work and the law in the light of the case highlighted above.
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