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August 01, 2006

Maintenance Courts letting down single mothers

Single mothers applying for child maintenance in KwaZulu-Natal are frustrated with having to deal with unhelpful court staff and a justice system they believe has failed them, says a report in the Daily News that recounts the experiences of several applicants. It says they feel that maintenance courts do not protect the rights of single mothers and their children and say that the process of applying for maintenance is an ‘embarrassing and shameful’ experience. Many said that mothers are ridiculed at the courts and treated like criminals. One of the issues facing maintenance courts, according to the report, is inadequate staff which impacts heavily on the process of maintenance orders. Nationally, there are only 427 court clerks, 86 maintenance officers, 140 maintenance investigators. At the Durban Magistrates’ Court, there are six court clerks and three maintenance officers. Umlazi court has six clerks and two maintenance officers. Pietermaritzburg has only five maintenance officers.

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