Movement of children of separated parents will now be allowed during the lockdown period. However, this is provided that the co-parents have a court order or an agreement authorising this.
This is according to an amendment to the National State of Disaster, which came into effect on Tuesday.
Parents and caregivers must have the court order or agreement, or certified copies, in their possession while transporting the child.
The lockdown regulations had initially prohibited the movement of children during this period.
Divorce and Custody Specialist Shando Theron has called on parents who have joint custody of their children to put their personal differences aside during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Theron says children have rights, parents have responsibilities and right now the biggest responsibility is to protect their children from contracting the virus.
“The issue with the child’s immune system, children should not be moved around, what is the child’s risk of infection within the two households which has a vulnerable individual in the house like an aged or infirmed person so I think a sensible assessment is needed which indicates what’s in the child’s best interest. As its stands now it appears to have slight contracting messages coming up from govt. If a parent is not acting in the child’s best interest that person.”
Father of one-year-old child Sibusiso Nkosana says he often sees his child three times a week but things have changed since the lockdown.
“So far I have distanced myself to eliminate dangers of having my child infected. I do video calls via Microsoft Teams to his mother and he gets to see me on the video. We play normally it’ll be about 30 minutes per call twice a day.”
However, Nkosana says not seeing his child for three weeks worries him, “I don’t feel good, but prevention is always better than cure. My fear is that my son may not recognise who I am after 21-day lockdown.”
Nkoasana has advised parents with joint custody to protect their kids and not expose them to any possible infection. “COVID-19 is not permanent; parents should consider other means of communication. Take it like you got a new job in different province or country, far away from the kids, then maybe that will help.”
In the audio below Nkosana talks about his fears of not seeing his child:
Additional reporting by Wendy Mothata.