Nuno Palmeira our family law practitioner was hosted by Cliff Central this afternoon.
The topic under discussion was “The Rights of Grandparents in respect of their Grandchildren” ie what rights do grandparents have to care and contact and what are their obligations to their grandchildren in respect of support.
Section 28(1)(c) of the Constitution provides that every child has the right to basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services and social services. In addition our common law provides that both parents have a legal duty to support their children according to their means.
A large majority of the public considers the legal obligation of maintenance to only be the responsibility of the parents of the child and that no one else can have the legal obligation placed upon them. This is incorrect.
While the legal obligation to maintain a child primarily rests on the parents of the child in question it is accepted that other relatives of the child have to support the child in circumstances where a parent is deceased or unable to support/maintain the child.
In circumstances where a parent is deceased or unable to support/maintain their children the general rule is that the support/maintenance must always be sought from the nearest relative to the child, and only if that support/maintenance is not forthcoming from that relative, then it can be sought from more remote relatives.
As a result of the accepted common law principles, our courts have held that there is a reciprocal duty of support between grandparents and their grandchildren (Barnard v Miller 1963 (4) SA 426 (C)), and that if parents are not able to support their children, the duty of support falls on paternal and maternal grandparents of the child (Barnes v Union and South West Africa Insurance Co Ltd 1977 (3) SA 502 (E)).
Accordingly in South Africa there can be no doubt that both maternal and paternal grandparents can be required to support/maintain their grandchildren, but it must always be remembered that this can only happen in circumstances where a parent is deceased or unable to maintain their child themselves. In this regard it has been held by some of our courts that grandparents can defend maintenance claims against them by insisting that the claims first be pursued against a parent.
“Subsequent to his Facebook remarks which were construed as being racially offensive, Khumalo was duly suspended from the employ of the Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation and charged for serious misconduct for having “conducted himself in an improper, disgraceful and unacceptable manner”.
It is trite law that discipline must be consistently applied and as such within the Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation such conduct if coupled with a sense of remorse may only merit a suspension and final written warning.
Maybe there is some balance in the decision, maybe Corporate South Africa has overreacted on these issues. On balance and upon reflection maybe we have regained our sensibilities on this difficult issue.