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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.

July 10, 2006

Commission rules in favour of homos exual guesthouses

Homos exual guesthouses that exclude heteros exual couples, women and l esbians have been given the green light by the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE). According to a Sunday Times report, the commission’s ruling said it was possible to discriminate positively. Wits University law lecturer Tracy-Lynn Field is quoted as saying that although the constitutionality of the ruling could still be tested, recommendations made by organisations such as the CGE carried a lot of weight. Field said the Constitution only prohibited unfair discrimination. ‘So the question is, there may be discrimination but the issue is, is it unfair or not?’ The ruling comes after the G ay and L esbian Alliance asked the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to investigate 11 businesses on the grounds that their exclusivity denied the public access on the basis of s exual orientation, skin colour, gender or religion. The SAHRC referred the complaint to the CGE which, in its ruling, said that ‘accommodation of this nature is necessary in our democratic society to advance legitimate interests of the aforementioned groups’. SAHRC chairman Jody Kollapen said he was worried about the effects of exclusivity. ‘While it may be acceptable to have an association that is established to advance the interest of a particular group, it’s quite different when you are dealing with public facilities.’
Full Sunday Times report


Supplied courtesy of Legalbrief Today.


May 22, 2006

Grandfather sued for maintenance of dead son's child

Almost seven years after his only son was murdered, a KZN man is being sued for maintenance for his dead son’s child, says a report in The Witness. The girl was born out of wedlock to his son 10 years ago. Since a precedent-setting case in 2004, grandparents now have a legal duty to support their grandchildren if the mother is unable to and if the father is indigent, said an attorney. The duty also exists if the father has died. Judge PB Fourie ruled in the Cape High Court in 2004 that the Maintenance Act should be declared unconstitutional as it unfairly discriminates against extra-marital children and is contrary to the best interests of the child. If the common law is to keep in step with the values enshrined in our Constitution, then the paternal grandparents have a duty to support their extra-marital grandchildren to the same extent that the maternal grandparents are liable, he held.

May 07, 2006

Former husband's pension attached for maintenance

In what is seen as a landmark ruling, a mother of two has been awarded R100 000 in outstanding maintenance payments over five years from her former husband for their 10-year-old son. According to a report in The Star, Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla handed Jane Johnson the cheque as apart of her department's Operation Isondlo. Johnson obtained an order allowing the state to pay her a portion of her former husband's pension after she discovered he was leaving his job. A maintenance investigating officer found that the resignation benefits had already been deposited in the respondent's bank account and invested offshore. An urgent court order was granted for the nullification of the transactions and an attachment order was put in place.
Full report in The Star


Supplied courtesy of Legalbrief Today.


April 21, 2006

Equality Court rules in favour of white magistrate

The Equality Court has ruled in favour of a white magistrate in his case of unfair discrimination against the Port Elizabeth Magistrates’ Court over the appointment of a black female candidate. The Equality Court, says a report by The Herald, ruled that the Magistrates’ Court’s short-listing procedures with regard to appointing Regional Court magistrates discriminated unfairly against white male applicants. The procedures made it impossible for a white male to be promoted over a black female, irrespective of experience or any other non-race factors. This, the Equality Court said, was ‘unfair discrimination’, rather than ‘fair discrimination’, which was endorsed by the court with regards to employment equity. In the case of Magistrates Ignatius du Preez, Judge Andre Erasmus ruled that the Justice Minister had failed to prove that the discrimination against the white magistrate was fair. He ordered that the existing criteria for short-listing of candidates be set aside, the posts be re-advertised and that the minister pay the legal costs. According to the report, a second Magistrate, Neels Goosen, has brought a similar application to the High Court in its capacity as an Equality Court.
Full report in The Herald


Supplied courtesy of Legalbrief Today.