Amended Regulations issued on 16 April 2020 under Government Gazette number 43232, no. R 465, in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act.

In terms of the amended Regulations, children may be moved between parents / co-holders of parental rights during the COVID-19 lock-down period, should the following be in place:

  • A court order regulating their contact; or
  • The parties have a parental plan determining their parental rights and responsibilities, which is registered with the family advocate; or
  • The parent / co-holder of parental rights has a birth certificate / certified copy thereof, to prove their relationship to the child(ren).[1]

Parents / co-holders of parental rights are obliged to have the above documents in their possession when transporting the children to the other parent’s residence.[2]

However, child(ren) shall not be moved to a household where a person has come into contact (or has been reasonably suspected to have come into contact) with a person who has contracted COVID-19.

These regulations give greater clarity on the rights of parents to exercise contact with their children during lock-down. They also provide some good news for parents who do not yet have a parenting plan to regulate the contact arrangements with their children, as it appears they only need to prove that they are a parent of the child(ren).

In a very recent High Court case in Cape Town, Justice Meer ordered on 14 April 2020 that a father was authorised to travel from Cape Town to collect his children from their grandparents’ residence in Bloemfontein.  Justice Meer emphasised the importance of the best interests of the children to be served during lock-down. The grandparents were no longer able to care for the two young children sustainably,[3] and therefore it was in the best interest of the children that they be fetched by their father.

Parents are advised to consider the best interests of their children carefully, when exercising their parental rights during lock-down.

Antionette Rawlings
Attorney: Family Law

[1] New sub regulation 11B (9)(a)

[2] New sub regulation 11B(9)(b)

[3] The grandparents, aged 72 and 68 respectively, were frail and could not keep up with the two young children. They were not suitably equipped to assist the children with their schoolwork and the children were having emotional outbursts as they missed their parents.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)