The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development helps track down papgeld defaulters. File picture: Supplied
Johannesburg - From January 5, papgeld (child maintenance) dodgers will be traced through their cellphone numbers - and they will be blacklisted from accessing credit.

Key sections of the Maintenance Amendment Act will come into effect then, after President Jacob Zuma and Justice Minister Michael Masutha approved regulations allowing the enforcement of the law.

The new law will give maintenance officers powers to track child maintenance defaulters through information obtained from cellphone service providers.

According to the new regulations, if maintenance defaulters persist in refusing to pay, they will be blacklisted.

Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery told The Star on Thursday that the two-year delay in the implementation of the law was due to consultations with credit service providers.

“It relates basically to the provisions that maintenance defaulters who don’t pay can be blacklisted, so there had to be involvement and engagement with the credit service providers over the regulations,” Jeffery said.

The government was confident it had the capacity to fulfil its mandate in relation to collecting papgeld, he added.

“We wouldn’t have done it if we didn’t think we could."

Jeffery said parents of children who were not being paid maintenance needed to apply for their exes to be blacklisted.

The new law demands that papgeld dodgers be brought to justice for not paying for the maintenance of their children.

The new law will also target rich ex-husbands who hide their wealth in trusts. The Justice Department’s Law Reform Commission had identified the setting up of trusts as a way of hiding wealth to evade papgeld obligations.

When the promulgation of the new law was approved by Parliament in 2015, the plan was for the courts to examine all such possessions and deal decisively with situations where maintenance debtors establish trusts with the sole intention of hiding their assets to disadvantage claimants.

Even trusts will now be susceptible to Zuma’s new law, depending on income.

Jeffery said the delay was due to planning for the new regulations.

The law that was approved in 2015 states that beneficiaries would be able to claim maintenance where they work and not only where they live, to make it easier for beneficiaries to go to the Maintenance Court during working hours. It also makes provision for cases where parents seeking to enforce maintenance orders cannot trace their exes.

A court can then grant an order directing electronic communication service providers to provide it with the contact information of the papgeld dodger.

Several government initiatives have tried to deal with child-maintenance defaulters, but have had limited success.

Fed up parents set up Izinja Ezingondliyo (dogs who don’t pay maintenance) pages on Facebook. This has taken social media by storm, and is exposing mostly men who fail to provide for their children.

The Justice Department-administered Third Party Fund has had accounting troubles for years, but Masutha’s interventions appear to have yielded results.

The Star