Child rights organisations have called for mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis to ensure that the rights and dignity of children are prioritised and protected as the City seeks legal advice on whether to appeal an order directing the mayor to set up a trust for a child who became orphaned when his father was jailed for the murder of his mother.
The trust aims to ensure that the boy continues living in his childhood home in Fisantekraal, Durbanville.
The City on Thursday indicated that it would appeal against their denied application to the Supreme Court of Appeal, after receiving a tongue-lashing from Western Cape High Court Judge Daniel Thulare.
The boy’s father was sentenced to life behind bars for the murder of his wife, whom he had strangled, then bundled her body into a wheelie bin and burned her before burying her in a shallow grave on a river bank.
Judge Thulare, in denying the application said: “The (mayor) elected to deal with this matter on a technical basis with a disposition in which the socio-economic rights of the child were but an irrelevant irritation which should have been ignored when his father was sentenced to life.
“The thinking seems to be that the court was supposed to treat the child ‘as a mere extension of his parents, umbilically destined to sink with them’ ...
“The appeal seems to be calculated to simply have the protection to the child’s rights, resulting from the impact on him as a victim of crime, incised like a wart from the proceedings.”
The City, after its failed application in the high court, said it had noted the decision to dismiss the leave to appeal.
“There appears to be little rationale or legal basis for the dismissal, and the City is now taking legal advice on directly petitioning the SCA for leave to appeal.”
Child protection and anti-GBV NPO Ilitha Labantu spokesperson Siyabulela Monakali said the protection of the boy’s rights should be prioritised.
“Ilitha Labantu is deeply disappointed in the manner in which the City has dealt with this case.
“The circumstances around this case are disheartening as the child has lost his mother as a result of femicide.
We strongly condemn the decision taken by the mayor.
“These actions go against what we should be standing for as a nation.
No child should be failed by the state and we strongly appeal to all relevant parties to ensure that the rights and dignity of the child are prioritised and protected,” said Monakali.
Molo Songololo director Patric Solomons applauded the judge’s decision.
“Molo Songololo calls on the mayor to take the example of the judge, and put the rights of the child first.
“This is a constitutional obligation that the mayor has, to prioritise the rights, care, development and protection of children.
“Where the law fails to prioritise protection for children, as it clearly does in this case, regarding children inheritance rights.
“The mayor’s obligation, like the judge did in this judgment, is to explore all possible alternatives to ensure the child’s interests, needs and rights are secured.
“(We) hope that the mayor will drop this appeal and take the opportunity to work with the court to protect the rights and secure the inheritance of this child,” said Solomons.