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On Thursday, September 15, on Thetha FM, Itumeleng the presenter of the Evening Current Affairs interviewed the award-winning paralegal, sir Bricks on Children’s Court and Children’s Rights

What is a children’s court?

Children’s Court is a special court that deals with issues affecting children. The children’s court also takes care of children who are in need of care and protection and makes decisions about children who are abandoned, neglected or abused.

 The Children Act, 2001 created the Children Court, formerly known as the to deal with children under 18 years of age. The following information sets out the various rules regarding the Children Court, including the types of cases heard before it, privacy, in-camera rules, etc. There are also important rules regarding the age of criminal responsibility, particularly as they relate to children.

Operation of the Children Court

The creation of the Children Court by the 2001 Act attempted to separate court proceedings involving children from those which involve adults. In general, the Children Court takes place in the District Court building but under Section 71(1) (b) of the 2001 Act should take place in a different room or building or on a different day or time from other courts. Indeed, judges who sit in the Children Court are required to undergo special training or education as deemed necessary by the President of the District Court. All of the measures contained in the 2001 Act which relate to children and the Children Court are designed in the interest of the child and attempt to ensure that the Children Court operates in a way which has regard to the needs and sensitivities of the children concerned.

The Children’s Court can place a child in safe care or refer the child and/or the parent to services that they may require.

Who can or must report a case of child’s identified abuse?

  • Parent
  • Guardian
  • Sister / brother
  • Uncle
  • Dentists
  • Teachers
  • Social workers
  • Lawyers
  • Ministers of religion
  • Nurses
  • Traditional leaders
  • Most importantly, Children have the right to be heard

“The Children’s Act, 2005 (Act No 38 of 2005)”

Privacy of the Children Court

 The District Court (Children) Rules 2006 places restriction on people entitled to attend a sitting of the Children Court. This is commonly known as the in camera rule. This rule basically prohibits the holding of proceedings in the Children Court in public. If any matter is published or broadcast in breach of these prohibitions the person responsible shall be guilty of an offence.

Here is list of persons entitled to attend:

  • Officers of the court
  • The parties and their legal representatives,
  • Witnesses
  • An adult relative of the child or other adult who attends the court in accordance with Section 91 (6) of the 2001 Act
  • Such other persons (if any) as the Court may at its discretion permit to remain.
  • The order or decisions of the Court in any such proceedings are announced in public.

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