Understanding The Children’s Court South Africa

One of the most unfortunate things about the South African judiciary system is that so many people in South Africa do not understand its different courts. One such court is the Children’s Court of South Africa. The last thing anyone wants is this lack of understanding to get in the way of a child(ren) receiving the help they need. So what is the Children’s Court South Africa, and how can it help you?

Children’s Court South Africa deals primarily with issues that affect children. It is not a criminal court and aims to be child-friendly. One of its primary roles is to take care of children needing protection and care and make decisions about children who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned.

Children’s Court South Africa is a special court and fills a much-needed niche in protecting vulnerable children. If you want to gain a better understanding of how this court system works, it would be a good idea to take a look at where you might find the Children’s Court, what matters you can take before the court, who may approach the court, and what kinds of orders the Children’s Court may make.


What Is Children’s Court, South Africa?

Every Magistrate’s Court in South Africa is a Children’s Court; therefore, you can find one in most parts of the country. It is not a criminal court, and there will be no criminal cases heard in the same room, which means that no children attending the court will be subjected to any criminal element sharing the same room as them.

The Children’s Court strives to be a child-friendly legal space and deals primarily with instances surrounding protecting children in an area that ensures the children feel safe enough to express themselves. The court’s primary purpose is to champion the well-being and rights of children and to care for those who have been neglected, abused, or abandoned.

Children’s Court South Africa is governed by the legislation in the Children’s Act 38 of 2005. Including its jurisdiction, establishment, and operations.


What Matters Does Children’s Court South Africa Adjudicate?

There are several matters that the Children’s Court might deal with; these include:

  • the well-being and protection of a child
  • issues involving the paternity of a child
  • the support of a child
  • the contact with or care of a child
  • cases involving the abuse, maltreatment, neglect, and any exploitation or degradation of a child, except any criminal prosecutions in this regard
  • a child’s alternative care
  • a child’s temporary safe care
  • child adoptions, including inter-country adoption
  • the provision of early intervention or prevention services and early childhood development services
  • a partial care facility, youth or child care facility, drop-in center, shelter, or any other facility that purports to be a care facility for children
  • or any other matter relating to the well-being, care, or protection of a child provided for in the Act


Who Can Bring Matters Before Children’s Court In South Africa?

So long as the case falls within the jurisdiction of the court, the following people may approach the Children’s Court or a clerk of the Children’s Court:

  • anyone who is acting in the interest of the public
  • a child who is involved or affected by the matter which needs to be adjudicated
  • any person who is acting in the interests of the child
  • anyone who is acting in the interests of or as a member of a class or group of children
  • anyone acting on behalf of a child who cannot act in their own name


The following individuals are duty-bound to report cases or potential instances of child abuse to the Children’s Court:

  • Teachers
  • Traditional Leaders
  • Ministers of Religion
  • Social Workers
  • Dentists
  • Lawyers
  • Nurses


If you wish to report a matter to the Children’s Court in South Africa, you will be happy to know that you can do so without a legal representative’s assistance. The clerks at the court have the necessary training to assist you in launching an application at the court on your own. Even a child has the right to approach the Children’s Court in their own right.

All you would need to do is approach the Magistrates Court closest to the child(ren)s home. You will be required to submit two documents to the clerk, these include:

  • Form 2
  • An Affidavit that briefly states the basis of your claim and why you felt it was necessary to approach the court. The best course of action would be to go to your local police station and fill out an affidavit, ensuring you get it commissioned once completed.


What Kinds Of Orders Can A Children’s Court In South Africa Make?

There is a range of orders that a Children’s Court may make, including but not limited to the following:

  • They can make alternative care orders, which include placing a child in the care of a youth and child care centre, in the care of a person who the court has designated to be a foster parent of the child, or in a place of temporary care.
  • Any adoption orders, which include any inter-country adoptions.
  • They can make partial care orders which might involve instructing the parents or caregiver of the child to make arrangements for the child to be cared for by a partial care facility during specific hours during the day or night or for a particular period.
  • They can give a shared care order which could involve instructing several caregivers or youth and child care centres to take responsibility for the child’s care at different times or periods.
  • They might give a supervision order which would place the child, parent, or caregiver of the child under the supervision of a social worker or other people the court designated to supervise.
  • They may instruct the child, parent, or caregiver to attend early intervention services, a family preservation program, or both.
  • They can hand out a child protection order.
  • They can order that someone investigates in terms of section 50 of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005.


There are many ways that the Children’s Court in South Africa is geared towards helping the nation’s children and ensuring that they are protected and cared for correctly. Even though the system is set up to make accessing the Children’s Court in South Africa easy and accessible to all, you might still have questions. The best people to answer these questions would be family lawyers experienced with this court system and who have extensive knowledge of how it works.

Our team at Burnett Attorneys & Notaries is knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the Children’s Court in South Africa. They would be happy to answer any questions you might have regarding the processes involved at the courts. So if you are looking for further information on the subject, don’t hesitate to contact us; we will strive to help you to the best of our ability.