Ask Your Employer about SmartFunder to Help Pay for Your Child’s Education

Education, or, more specifically, free education remains a contentious issue in South Africa. With the well-being and economic empowerment of current and future generations directly linked to the accessibility and affordability of quality education- something the #FeesMustFall movement powerfully shone a spotlight on,- it’s high time that the Government and the Nation take action and implement various initiatives to help the cause.  After all, education is a Constitutional right.

Thankfully, the SmartFunder Education Bursary Fund is a great step forward in making sure young South Africans have access to education.

What is the SmartFunder Education Bursary Fund in South Africa?

SmartFunder is a company that administers Educational Bursary Schemes on behalf of various employers in South Africa.  Essentially, this is where the private sector can step in and help employers pay for their children’s education.

If an employee earns less than R600 000 a year (total remuneration) and pays for their child(ren) or relative’s school or university fees, the company will qualify for this benefit. This simply means that the employer will move the employee’s education expenses from a post-tax to a pre-tax expense, by way of a new company benefit.

What is the maximum amount an employee can receive through SmartFunder Education Bursary Fund?

For school-goers (Grade R to Grade 12), an employee qualifies for a maximum R20 000 bursary, and for students (college or university, NQF level 5 -10), an employee qualifies for a maximum R60 000 bursary.

Expenses covered by the SmartFunder Education Bursary Fund include:

  • Registration fees
  • School fees
  • Books
  • Transport
  • Accommodation
  • Stationery and equipment
  • Uniforms
  • Meals

These are all paid directly to the school, college or university.

What does it cost to benefit from the SmartFunder Education Bursary Fund?

There is no cost for a company, since SmartFunder will process the tax-deductible education bursary benefit on their behalf.  However, for employees, there is a monthly administration fee that is deducted from their savings.  The administration fee is approximately 10% of the savings an employee receives from SARS and is calculated according to the employee’s income.

The future of South Africa #EducationForAll

We cannot deny that an educated society plays a major role in ensuring a bright and sustainable future for a country, and this is particularly relevant in South Africa.  So, employees, ask your employer about the SmartFunder Education Bursary to help you empower your loved ones.

DISCLAIMER

Paving the Way Forward for Women in South Africa

Women are often regarded as cornerstones of families and greater communities, and in many ways, have laid down solid foundations of nurturing and support for future generations for years and years. But what’s often lost in conversations about women in South Africa is the fact that they are also activists, innovators and role models for thousands across the country.

But those incredible strengths and abilities are undoubtedly inspired by the courageous and influential women of South Africa’s history. Case in point: the more than 20 000 brave women who walked to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest amendments to the Urban Areas Act. It was a giant leap forward for women’s right and equality in South Africa.

But the fight continues!

For all the progress that has been made, there are many obstacles for women- from increased gender-based violence to pay gap disparities.

LAW FOR ALL:  Challenging the Male-dominated Legal Industry

It’s important for LAW FOR ALL to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk, too. Our company has two highly accomplished women at the helm: Chief Legal Executive Delia McArthur and Managing Director Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal.

“At LAW FOR ALL, women’s rights and empowerment take centre stage, as two of our core values. Women have been overlooked in the legal industry and society in general for far too long,” maintains McArthur.

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Additionally, Nagtegaal says LAW FOR ALL is committed to being a beacon of hope for women in the legal fraternity.

“Transformation is at the forefront of every decision we make as a legal service provider. It’s crucial for us to create the world we wish to see. Being in the legal industry, I believe there rests a greater onus on us to boost transformation, as it is the legal fraternity that shapes how we do things in the future. Representation and equal opportunity are essential elements for a truly democratic South Africa,” adds Nagtegaal.

Looking back to make giant leaps forward

We’re reflecting on the powerful and influential women who broke barriers in the past, unpacking the multiple struggles women still face in contemporary South Africa and celebrating the fearless females who are doing it for themselves. The goal? To inspire and empower the mothers, sisters, daughters of our nation.

This month, LAW FOR ALL takes a closer look at:

  1. South African Women Struggle Icons and Activists

While the likes of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Steve Biko are household names (and rightfully so), women struggle icons who challenged the racist apartheid regime and fought for women’s rights are often overlooked.  This month, we’re highlighting female activists, politicians and other influential figures who deserve more praise.

women-activists-south-africa

  1. Sexual Consent in South Africa

After going viral in 2017, the #MeToo social media movement reignited conversations about what constitutes sexual consent. It revealed, amongst other things, that someone doesn’t have to explicitly say “no” to indicate that they do not want to proceed with a sexual activity/encounter.  We take a closer look at what it means to give consent and the legal consequences of not taking “no” for an answer (spoiler: it’s sexual assault).

consent-south-africa

  1. Challenges Facing Women Lawyers in South Africa

On the topic of sexual harassment and assault, it’s been reported that almost half of women legal professionals have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. This is just one of the major issues holding women back in the legal industry. In this write-up, we explore gender inequality in law firms and why “representation” is more than just a buzzword.

women-in-law

  1. Women Buying Property in South Africa

Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom. And women are becoming more and more economically empowered.  In 2019, it was reported that single women in South Africa are the biggest demographic of property buyers.  LAW FOR ALL understands the power of having property as an investment, and thus all policyholders qualify for discounted transfer fees, ranging from 35% to 60% off, depending on the policy. We also give some helpful hints on what to consider before your purchase property here:

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Let’s Get into Formation

A truly equal and transformed country for all is only possible if we all stand together.  It takes personal perceptions, societal expectations and legal structures to shift and evolve, in order to lay a new foundation for women (and our country) to thrive.

We’ve Got Your Back!

LAW FOR ALL policies are pocket-friendly and provide comprehensive cover for whatever legal challenge life throws your way. For more information on how LAW FOR ALL can become your friend in times of need and help you navigate life have a look at our policies here.

DISCLAIMER

On the Rise: Women Property Owners in South Africa

It’s hard to believe it wasn’t too long ago that the idea of women having the right to own property or inherit land in South Africa was seen as absurd by the patriarchal society and oppressive Government. Not only is it now a very different story- thankfully-but women property owners in South Africa are on the rise, and single women are now the biggest group of property owners in the country. Forget the sexist “homemakers” label, women are quickly becoming homeowners!

 Yes, sisters are doing it for themselves! Women property owners in South Africa

According a report by research group Lightstone, 72 000 single women bought residential properties in 2018- more than single men and couple and married couples. And, as Gerhard Kotzé, Managing Director of the RealNet estate agency group, points out in a feature for IOL’s Personal Finance, “there is high and growing demand now and in the foreseeable future for rental properties, which makes this a good time for women to become property investors and start acquiring rental homes that will provide them with capital growth along with an independent income stream”.

This is so inspiring…what should I look out for if I want to buy my first property?

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Potential women property owners must acquaint themselves with the hidden costs of buying a house in South Africa.  “Unfortunately, most first-time buyers aren’t aware of the fact that the price listed on the actual property ad doesn’t reflect the full amount that needs to be paid in order to legal own the property,” mentions Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal, Managing Director at LAW FOR ALL.  Some administrative costs to be aware of include the deposit, transfer duty tax, transfer attorney costs, bond attorney costs and bond administration fees.

A deposit

This is an initial down payment for your home that you should save up. Deposits can influence whether or not a financial lending  institution will grant you a better payback rate on your bond. (Note- a deposit isn’t technically a “hidden cost”, but it is best to be aware of it.

Transfer tax duty

This is a Government-imposed tax to cover the transfer of the property from the seller to the new buyer.  This amount is calculated using a table created by The South African Revenue Services. There is no transfer duty on properties under R900 000.

Transfer attorney costs

These fees pay the conveyancers who legally transfer ownership of the new property to you.  Additional costs also include fees for the Deeds Office registration, postage and disbursements charged by the conveyancers.

Bond attorney costs

This fee is paid to the attorneys who register your bond.

Bond initiation and administration fees

The institution or bank will charge certain amounts for the initiation and future administration of the bond.

All together these fees (excluding the deposit) can add an additional 10% to the amount on the property ad.

Ok, I’ve made some notes. What else should I add to my checklist?

In addition to the admin side of things, you should look into any physical structural issues the property might have. Sellers are definitely legally obligated to submit a thorough report on any leak, mould, moisture damage, cracks etc, but it’s best to conduct your own inspection with the help of a professional. It’s also best to get an attorney involved to oversee and sign off on you and the seller agreeing on the structural issues on paper.

Side note: if you are not quite ready to buy a home just yet, here’s a basic guide to renting property in South Africa.

How #LAWFORALL can help!

Smiling law student

As a LAW FOR ALL policyholder, you will receive a significant discount on the transfer fees mentioned above! The amount you will save depends on the policy you take out with us, but it ranges from 35% to 60% off the transfer fee. As always, we are your caring legal friends in the law! This will certainly help future women property owners in South Africa.

We’ve Got Your Back!

LAW FOR ALL policies are pocket-friendly and provide comprehensive cover for whatever legal challenge life throws your way. For more information on how LAW FOR ALL can become your friend in times of need and help you navigate life have a look at our policies here.

DISCLAIMER

A Closer Look at Sexual Consent in South Africa

Ntsiki (23) and Thabo (26) have been seeing each other regularly for a few months. They have a lot in common, enjoy each other’s company, but haven’t been intimate just yet.  One night, after getting back from a dinner with friends, the couple start kissing and getting sensual. After a few minutes of making out, they start removing their clothes. But as Thabo reaches to remove Ntsiki’s underwear, she mutters that she is uncomfortable.

“We’ve come this far, babe. Did you not enjoy the kissing?” asks Thabo.

“I did…very much,” replies Ntsiki.

“So, what’s the problem? I promise we will have a good time.”

After a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, Ntsiki quietly states, “ I don’t think I want to carry on. I’m not ready.”

“Of course, babe. Can I make you a cup of tea or something?”

In this case, Ntsiki is one of the lucky few who has a partner who understands the nuances of what it means to consent to engaging in a sexual act and respecting boundaries.  Ntsiki may not have explicitly said the word “no”; but she said “no” in different ways. To unpack this further, LAW FOR ALL takes a closer look at sexual consent in South Africa.

Trending topic: how the #MeToo movement reignited a much-needed debate

Thankfully, if Ntsiki wanted to tell her story, she wouldn’t have had to use #MeToo.  That hashtag, as many may already know, went viral in October 2017. It gained global traction and attention after thousands and thousands of brave women (and some men) posted their stories on social media of being sexually abused or assaulted. It was dubbed the “Me Too Movement”.

In addition to revealing just how prevalent sexual assault is and how it hasn’t been properly dealt with, the trending topic also shed light on consent, and how it isn’t always just a matter of “yes” or “no” when it comes to accepting or rejecting sexual advances. It’s a nuanced issue that needs to be looked at from many angles, and not just once.

As an article on Planned Parenthood points out: “ Consent is never implied by things like your past behaviour, what you wear, or where you go. Sexual consent is always clearly communicated — there should be no question or mystery. Silence is not consent. And it’s not just important the first time you’re with someone. Couples who’ve had sex before or even ones who’ve been together for a long time also need to consent before sex — every time.”

Another layer: a closer look at sexual consent in South Africa

While sexual consent is important in any context, it must also be dealt with and addressed within the framework of a specific country. Long before the #MeToo movement, there was the #EndRapeCulture campaign that was started in South Africa in 2016.

The movement sought to address the high rates of rape and gender-based violence in the country. Sadly, the rate of gender-based violence in South Africa is one of the highest in the world. According to the Crime against Women in South Africa 2018 report, there has been a 53% increase in sexual offences against women in a short period – from 31 665 in 2015/16 to 70 813 in 2016/17.

Exposing what rape culture is and how it contributes to sexual violence has been an eye-opener for many. “It is the acceptance of rape as “inevitable” in a society that says “don’t get raped” as opposed to “do not rape.” A society that teaches rape prevention instead of consent. Rape culture ranges from things that seem “normal” to those that are more blatantly and explicitly violent,” writes Jesse Jade Turner for Parent24.

Ultimately, teaching children about sexual consent and integrating lessons about rape culture in school curricula could have an enormous impact on reducing sexual offences against women in South Africa. “Discussions and conversations about consent need to start at an early age,” maintains Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal, LAW FOR ALL’s Managing Director. “It’s all about starting to change perceptions of entitlement and engraining notions of respecting boundaries in young minds, all of which will have a larger effect on changing the culture that younger generations are raised in”.

For instance, UCT’s Gender Health and Justice Research Unit created a guide to sexual consent in South Africa, and includes examples of and myths surrounding sexual consent.

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What does the law say about the legal age of consent in South Africa?

According to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act (2007), the age of consent for both boys and girls is 16 years of age.  Of course, there are some exceptions; for example, if both partners are between the ages of 12 and 16 they won’t be criminally charged; and it is not criminal for a child under the age of 16 to have sex with a partner who is less that years older than they are.  Furthermore, South African law states that no child under the age of 12 has the capacity to consent to sex, and therefore any sexual act with a pre-teen is rape and/or sexual assault.

An important takeaway here, though, is that even if someone is of age to have sex, it doesn’t mean they automatically consent to having sex. They can still say or imply “no”.

What the South African Government and Law are doing about addressing sexual consent and violence in South Africa:

In 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa officially launched the Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) Declaration, which calls for the Government, society and other key players to “find solutions to the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide”. Amongst other things, the declaration “promises adequate resourcing of Thuthuzela Care Centres, sexual offences courts and shelters that respond to the needs of all people including people with disabilities and LGBTQIA+”.

Additionally, the declaration also coincided with the launch of the Booysens Magistrates’ Court in Oakdene South of Johannesburg.  The Court is fully equipped to help and support survivors of sexual assault, gender-based violence and femicide, and it offers the following services:

  • A fully-fledged Sexual Offences Court
  • Family Law services such as maintenance, domestic violence, harassment and children’s court matters
  • Small claims court services
  • Civil and Criminal Court services – Regional and District

Taking an individual and collective stance to advance the discussion of sexual consent in South Africa

It clear that we as South Africans need to educate ourselves, our children and our loved ones on what sexual consent really is, and it is a broad-brush-stroke issue.  These discussions will hopefully lay the foundations for change: a change in understanding, perception and culture. So many lives depend on this.

We’ve Got Your Back!

Inappropriate and criminal behaviour is also, unfortunately, prevalent in offices around the country. LAW FOR ALL takes a closer look at how to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace.

DISCLAIMER

Women Struggle Icons Who Paved the Way for Democracy in South Africa.

In early 2019, South African mountaineer Saray Khumalo became the first black African woman to reach the top of Mount Everest. It was a monumental and historic feat that inspired many across the nation and world.

“Let’s find other things that we haven’t done and also create a space at the table and let more of us show the world that we can do what we want to do, when we want to do it and how we want to do it. We’re just as capable,” declared Khumalo to the press.

Of course, she is completely right, women are more than capable and there are many “mountains” that women can, have and continue to climb. Whether it’s Bonang Matheba expanding her media empire, former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela continuing the fight for equality or Zanele Muholi whose artwork on black lesbian, gay and trans people have gained global recognition, there are many phenomenal South Africa women breaking boundaries.

And the fact is, South Africa has a long history of women challenging obstacles and oppression. The brave, courageous and ground-breaking females of the past laid the foundations for the rights and freedoms of today, but are often overlooked, since their male counterparts generally get more media recognition.

So, we’ve decided to honour some South African female freedom fighters who challenged the racist apartheid regime and fought for women’s rights in South Africa. These female activists, politicians and other influential figures deserve more praise.

albertina-sisulu Affectionately known as the “Mother of the Nation”, Albertina Sisulu was an astute political activist and one of the first women to occupy a leadership position in an anti-apartheid movement. In the 1950s, Sisulu- who was married to former ANC deputy president Walter Sisulu- became involved in organising The Federation of South African Women’s (FEDSAW) historic and iconic Women’s March to protest amendments to the racist pass laws of the time.

Sisulu’s defiance and activism led to her being jailed and tortured on numerous occasions; in fact, she became the first woman to be detained by police under a new law that allowed authorities to place suspects in prison for 90 days without making any official charges.  In 1989, Albertina Sisulu and other fearless female politicians opened the ANC’s Women’s League first office in Durban. As the country transitioned into a free and democratic nation, Albertina and her husband both became members of Parliament. On 2 June 2011, at the age of 92, Sisulu passed away at her home. She received a State funeral .

lillian-ngoyiWith a powerful dedication to the liberation of black South African women during apartheid, Lillian Ngoyi is widely regarded as a pivotal figure in the struggle for our nation’s freedom. Known for her stirring public speaking skills, Ngoyi quickly rose in the ranks of the ANC, and was elected as the President of the ANC Women’s League. She is best known for leading the 1956 Women’s March to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, and famously knocked on then Prime Minister J.G. Strijdom’s door to personally hand him signed petitions to stop the introduction of pass laws for black women.

That same year, Ngoyi, was arrested and stood trial for treason in the infamous Treason Trial. She was eventually imprisoned for five months in 1960, where she spent a significant portion of her sentence in solitary confinement.

She was ultimately issued banning orders in the 60s, which were renewed throughout the 70s and confined her to Orlando Township in Johannesburg.  She passed away from a heart condition in 1980 at the age of 69.

cheryl-carolus
Cheryl Carolus’ strong sense of fairness and equality began at an early age: in high school, she initiated a campaign to change the way prefects were chosen and successfully introduced a democratic election via a Students’ Representatives Council.

Her commitment to education and justice continued after she matriculated. After registering for a BA degree at the University of the Western Cape, she became very active in politics in the 70s. She joined the  Black Consciousness group and the South African Students’ Organisation (SASO), and after the apartheid government caught wind of her activism they detained her for 5 months in 1976.

Throughout the 1980s continued to pave the way for democracy: she participated in the 1981 school boycotts and helped for the United Democratic Front (UDF). During the 90s, Carolus’ focus shifted to the ANC, and she was elected to the party’s National Executive Committee in 1991.

In post-apartheid South Africa, she assumed the post as South Africa’s High Commissioner in London, and upon her return in 2001, she became the Chief Executive Officer of South African Tourism, until 2004.

She’s also received an Honorary Doctorate in Law from UCT for her human rights work.

helen-suzmanHelen Suzman’s name is synonymous with anti-apartheid and gender equality activism.

After completing her studies,  Suzman went on to lecture Economic History at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) from 1944 until 1952. During and after that period, Suzman became known as an outspoken critic of the apartheid government and the National Party’s oppressive policies.  In 1959, she, along with 12 other United Party members left to establish The Progressive Party.  Her political career as an member of parliament spanned 36 years, before retiring in 1989.

In addition to being a global icon for her humanitarian work, Helen Suzman also received two Nobel Peace Prize nominations before her death in 2009. She was 91 years old.

fatima-meer

Durban-born Fatima Meer was an academic, author, human rights activist and political struggle icon.

She first found “her voice” in her family’s business- a newspaper called Indian Views, which, as the name suggests, explored and reported on issues facing the Indian community in what was then called Natal.

After completing her Master’s degree in Sociology at the University of Natal, Meer began her philanthropic work and political activism. However, it wasn’t until 1946 when Fatima, who was just 18 years old, that she gained public recognition, thanks to being recruited by the Indian Passive Resistance Campaign.  A decade later, she also rose to prominence by being the only woman of colour lecturer at an all-white South African University.

As the nation transitioned into a democracy, she was offered a seat in Parliament, but rejected the offer in favour of writing, editing and publishing. She has more than 40 publications to her name.

She passed away in March 2010, at the age of 81.

Feeling Inspired and Continuing the climb!

With these incredible stories of perseverance, dedication and sacrifice, and a brief overview of the history of women’s struggle in mind, it’s difficult not to be motivated to tackle the Everest in our life! Yes, there will be uphill battles, but it’s time for you to pave the way forward for a new generation of women in South Africa.

We’ve got your back!

LAW FOR ALL’s experienced lawyers can provide legal advice and guidance on various matters. LAW FOR ALL is your friend in the law, so if you are unsure about a social media post, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Be sure to have a look at LAW FOR ALL’s comprehensive policies. Sign up today!

DISCLAIMER

Dealing with the Pressures of Planning a Wedding in South Africa

When it comes to milestones in life, getting married, for most, is probably at the top of the list. After all, it’s “your big day”, and since all eyes will be on you, the glowing bride, you want everything to be picture-perfect as you sashay down the aisle. But striving for perfection comes with a tremendous amount of pressure, and that can manifest in various ways. While most brides take it in their stride, some brides (and even grooms, for that matter) become unbearably demanding and morph into the dreaded “bridezilla” while planning a wedding.

Some even go viral for all the wrong reasons and send out ridiculous rules and regulations like this:

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Scary, right?

LAW FOR ALL has decided to play wedding planner and look into various scenarios of brides taking a turn for the worse. It’s all about putting things into perspective and helping you avoid sticky situations and encounters with the law while planning a wedding.

1. Paying for the wedding.

Weddings are costly; in fact, the average cost for all the glitz and glam of the ceremony can be between R150 000 and R650 000, according to W24. And, as we all know, money causes a lot of stress and tension.

Traditionally, it’s understood that the bride’s side of the family pays for the wedding, but that’s based on archaic “rules”, and they are not legally obligated to do so. As Mona-Lisa Snyman, a family law expert at LAW FOR ALL, points out, there is no legal obligation on the parents of a bride to pay for the wedding expenses. “Essentially it remains the responsibility of whoever enters into the agreements with the suppliers – whether it’s the venue, flowers or other expenses – to pay for the services”.

Ultimately, while planning a wedding, you want to avoid any unnecessary conflict with your family or soon-to-be in-laws.  And you certainly don’t want to take a page out of a book from a UK bride who went through great lengths to know how much money her future mother-in-law was earning because she wanted to ensure she contributed enough to the wedding.

There is no need for extensive detective work: be sure to have open and honest conversations about the wedding expenses and who will be contributing what.

“It’s also advisable to create a legally binding document that sets out who is responsible for paying for what. Remember, if you are going this route, it’s good to enlist the help of a lawyer,” adds Snyman.

via GIPHY

2. Being overly demanding of invited wedding guests or the bridal party

In 2018, an Australian “bridezilla” was called out by her own family on social media for her absurd wedding requirements and demands while planning a wedding. Not only did her guests have to pay for their flights and accommodation, but also their food, alcohol and cake. Not to mention, they were strongly encouraged to help fund the couple’s honeymoon!

But, guests RSVPing to your wedding does not necessarily mean they accept the terms of a legally binding contract that holds them liable to any demands.

“Traditionally, guests aren’t expected to fund someone’s wedding or honeymoon.  From a legal perspective, there must be a serious intention to create a legal obligation. For a contract to exist, the bride and groom have to make a clear offer and establish clear terms that must be accepted, unequivocally, by guests. Only then could guests potentially be held liable. But, it is a big “could” because an invitation in and of itself isn’t considered a legal document, and if it gets to the point where the matter goes to court, it could be thrown out.

 

In another viral post, the sister of a bride-to-be shared her sibling’s outrageous requirements for friends who want to be in her bridal party. To secure a spot in her bridal party, contenders needed to complete tasks, purchase gifts and… wait for it… sign a contract that holds people “legally responsible” for meeting all the requirements.

Needless to say, do not do this and turn your wedding into a bizarre competition!

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3. Unrealistic expectations from vendors

In the hustle and bustle of getting everything sorted for the wedding and reception, you may have forgotten about what you agreed to with certain vendors. “It’s highly recommended that you are discerning about which vendors you choose and get any agreements in writing,” says Snyman. In South Africa, the Consumer Protection Act protects brides and grooms’ rights to receiving quality goods that are free of defects and fair terms and conditions.  “The couple has the right to examine goods, receive a detailed quote and breakdown of the financial obligations with the supplier. The terms of an agreement to supply good or services may not be unfair or unreasonable. If the goods are defective it can be returned and ask for replacement, repair or a refund,” maintains Snyman.

Not to mention, if services are of poor quality or not completed in time, the bride can ask that the supplier correct their mistake or provide a refund depending on the extent of the error. If the supplier doesn’t budge, the couple can go to an Ombudsman, or lodge a civil claim.

“However, but if the goods or services are offered in a certain condition and the bride accepted that, she cannot claim that it was defective and withhold payment or she could face legal action,” clarifies Snyman.

On the other side of the aisle, the bride’s consumer rights are also protected. If any of the vendors don’t fulfil their side of the contract, you could take legal action against them. In early 2010, a Cape Town couple took a caterer to the Small Claims Court for “ruining” their wedding with awful food.

Don’t lose perspective… remember what the day is really about

It’s perfectly fine to want a fairy tale wedding, but you shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that it is mostly about showing your love and commitment to your significant other and sharing that moment with friends and family.

We’ve Got Your Back!

LAW FOR ALL’s experienced lawyers can provide legal advice on marrying in or out of community of property and offer guidance on ante-nuptial agreements.

DISCLAIMER

Banks Can’t Take Your Money to Settle Debts

A recent ruling by the South Gauteng High Court has deemed it illegal for banks to take money out of your account to settle debts, unless you specifically authorise it to.

This comes after the National Credit Regular (NCR) took Standard Bank to court to challenge a practice known as “set-off”.

Previously, banks were allowed to deduct money from your account as soon as you get any income to pay debts you owe them (a house bond would be an example).  The exact amount the financial institution could take was also not regulated.

While the bank argued that it was an essential practice for debt recovery, Judge Raylene Keightley sided with the NCR’s argument that banks had privilege over other creditors, which meant that the consumer was left with no money to cover basic living costs. Essentially, it violates someone’s Constitutional right to property and dignity.

It was also found that the “set-off” practice undermined debt review, which allows an over-indebted person to apply to court for a rescheduling of debt repayments.  The NCR used an affidavit from a debt counsellor who found that “set-off” deductions can be devastating for anyone under debt review or administration to support their case.

The ruling was hailed as a victory for South African consumers.

We’ve got your back!

If you are drowning in debt, why not get in touch? LAW FOR ALL has partnered with, DebtBusters, an award-winning debt management company, to assist our clients with taking back control of their finances. For more about our policy benefits, see our Policies.


DISCLAIMER

Expert Legal Advice to Successfully Navigate Work, Money, Family and Life in South Africa

Ask anyone to quote the movie Braveheart, and they’ll likely belt out lead character William Wallace’s iconic, “Freedom!” line. And if you ask any young adult in South Africa what they want most in life, you will probably get the same response. Yes, having independence is exciting and the possibilities are endless: from going out into the world and building the life of your dreams, to landing the ultimate job, buying that dream car or planning a fairy-tale wedding. But, it can get a little overwhelming and stressful every now and then! And, at some point on the road to freedom, South Africans will encounter unexpected legal potholes and need expert legal advice to successfully navigate work, money and family-related problems.

 

Freedom is not FREE: Social Awareness and Giving Back during Nelson Mandela Month.

Of course, the liberty we enjoy and the rights LAW FOR ALL fights for every day is thanks to the freedom fighters who came before us. Fittingly, in July, we celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday and legacy. But despite our immense progress, there are still many South Africans who don’t get to fully experience the freedoms of today. This is why it’s up to every citizen to not just strive for change during a single month; it should be a consistent endeavour.  LAW FOR ALL prides itself on making a positive impact throughout the year. Our most recent project is teaming up with Habitat for Humanity to build houses in Wallacedene, Western Cape.

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LAW FOR ALL: A Friend in the Law

LAW FORALL believes that you don’t have to go through life’s ups and downs alone, so we also want to lend you a helping hand this July. LAW FOR ALL’s expert lawyers are in your corner and ready to take your call and give you legal advice.  As a policyholder, you have access to a 24-hr legal advice hotline. As always, we’ve got your back.

This month, LAW FOR ALL takes a closer look at:

  1. Make the Most of the Tax Season in South Africa

Paying tax is an inescapable part of life, and you have to do so responsibly otherwise you could legal action.  Recently, it was announced that the tax return threshold has been lifted from R350 000 to R500 000.

This means that people who earn less than R500 000 per year, and meet certain other criteria, will not need to file tax returns. We unpack the latest developments and look into how you can make the most of the tax season in South Africa.

tax-season-south-africa

  1. Things You Shouldn’t Say on Social Media

Social media is an inescapable part of modern life, and while it’s certainly a space for you to post selfies, express views and opinions (some even make a career out of this), you need to think before you post. In fact, you could be one offensive tweet away from losing your job, going to jail or being fined. Check out LAW FOR ALL’s go-to guide for what you shouldn’t put out into the cyber realm:

social-media-regulations-south-africa

  1. Car Modification Laws in South Africa

Of course, one of the most popular things you may want to post on social media is your first car, especially if you’ve decided to really spruce it up to the point where the guys from Pimp My Ride would give you a thumbs up! But there are legal limits to the visual and technical enhancements you can add to your vehicle. We take a closer at the dos and don’ts of pimping your ride in South Africa.

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  1. Getting Arrested & Paying Bail in South Africa

You certainly don’t want to be in a position where illegal car modifications get you into legal trouble and, possibly, behind bars. However, the truth is, you never know when you are going to have an encounter with the law, and the prospect of going to jail is terrifying. But with LAW FOR ALL, you don’t have to face this situation alone. Not only can we assist with paying bail and making a bail application, we also have a 24-hr emergency bail line. Here’s what you need to know about applying for and paying bail in South Africa.

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  1. Credit Records & Clearing Adverse Credit Listings

Of course, on the road to financial freedom, you will encounter debt, and it can impact your life in unexpected ways. If you don’t check your credit record regularly, you might not know if you have been blacklisted by a creditor, which can have various consequences.  Did you know you are the legal right to request a free credit report every year and that LAW FOR ALL can assist with drawing it? You never know what legal trouble will come your way, so we are here to assist.

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6. The Pressure of Getting Married in South Africa.

Even though more and more South Africans are choosing not to get married, you might still be asked to be a bridesmaid. So, if you are dealing with a “bridezilla” or need to brush up on the legal aspects of wedding demands, we tackle different wedding scenarios to give you more insight.

bridezilla-south-africa

Riding Shotgun on Your Journey through Life

LAW FOR ALL is determined to have your back when you need it the most.  Yes, life can be complicated, but the law doesn’t have to be with us in your corner.  Give us a call!

We’ve Got Your Back!

LAW FOR ALL policies are pocket-friendly and provide comprehensive cover for whatever legal challenge life throws your way. For more information on how LAW FOR ALL can become your friend in times of need and help you navigate life have a look at our policies here.

DISCLAIMER

 

The Dos and Don’ts of Car Modifications in South Africa

This is the moment: the car salesperson hands over the keys to your brand-new car, which is perfectly perched and wrapped in a bow. It’s certainly a snapshot worthy of an Instagram post, after all it’s your new baby. And much like having a new born, purchasing your first set of wheels is certainly a milestone worth celebrating. Naturally, you might view your new symbol of independence as an extension of yourself and want to spruce it up, making it your own and boosting its performance! But, whether you just make a few barely visible enhancements or go full out and “pimp” your ride, you still have to adhere to car modification laws in South Africa. So before you drop your suspension, park somewhere comfortable and read up to make sure you are on the right side of the law.

Your driver has arrived!

LAW FOR ALL is taking you on a journey of the dos and don’ts of car modifications and alterations in South Africa

Our first stop is finding out what exactly are considered car modifications. According to Arrive Alive, it “can be described as bringing about changes to the original vehicle parameter standards with a view, largely of enhancing a vehicle’s performance in fuel consumption, load capacity, cosmetic trim, or top speed runs”. Generally speaking, alterations wouldn’t necessarily affect the performance of the vehicle, whereas modifications would.

There are three main categories of trendy car modifications:

Aesthetic or visual makeovers

If those dramatic spray-painted flames on the sides of a car come to mind, you are on the right track. In addition to paint jobs and decorations, visual modifications can also include chrome rims, grilles and so-called “halo” headlights.  For the most part, these changes only affect the way the car looks and not the way it performs or potentially endangers other road users. Because of this, these alterations are generally seen as harmless.

Functional enhancements

Vehicle owners who are generally happy with their automobile’s performance, meaning they are not looking to increase the machine’s power, usually make functional enhancements for practical reasons.  For example, a farmer who has to navigate bumpy roads and rough terrain on their land might want to lift the suspension on their trusty bakkie to elevate the vehicle and avoid any damage to its bottom.  Car owners who want to give their vehicles a sportier look and feel might opt for bigger and wider tyres and drop the suspension slightly.

Performance modifications and enhancements

For those drivers who want to ramp up their vehicle’s engine power, speed and breaking abilities. Various enhancements such as installing turbo chargers or making use of Nitrous Oxide can drastically alter how fast a car can go. The big problem is that these performance modifications are likely to be illegal since they threaten the safety of the driver and other road users.

Hold on, let’s pull over for a second… how do I know which modification are illegal?

Excellent question. As Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal, LAW FOR ALL’s Managing Director,  points out, “ The National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 isn’t very specific about which modifications are indeed illegal or not. But, before you take your car in for an extreme makeover, you have to ask yourself it will still be roadworthy and if it might endanger other drivers”. Remember, if your vehicle ends up not being roadworthy, you will have to make the necessary changes and restore it so that it can legally be on the roads again and take it through a roadworthy test again- of course, this will also cost money.

You can check your planned car enhancements against Arrive Alive’s list of modifications that are likely illegal. These include,

  • Excessive speed enhancements (like Nitrous Oxide cylinders)

    car-modification-south-africa

    Image courtesy: www.motoringresearch.com

  • Lowering the suspension to the point where it affects the handling of the vehicle
  • Fitting larger wheels that might affect the steering and general control of the vehicle
  • DIY suspension changes that involve cutting springs or heating coils to lower the body of the vehicle

    suspension-cars-south-africa

    Image courtesy: Wheels24

  • Installing a bigger engine than the vehicle can handle and might affect the handling, ability to stop and increase the wear and tear of tyres.
  • Custom number plates that include symbols (such as %, &, @ or $) or vulgar and harmful language
  • Installing a sound system that might cause an illegal noise nuisance, which is defined as any noise that “may disturb or impair the convenience or peace of any person”.

    audio-modifcation-car

    Image courtesy: Richard Bailey

But, because the actual Act is quite vague, many traffic authorities often take liberties in enforcing it and could interpret any modifications that alter the car’s appearance so much that it doesn’t resemble the actual model anymore as illegal.

 “Bear in mind, if you make adjustments that affect the handling or the speed capabilities of your car, you could end up endangering your own life and potentially the lives of other road users. The could lead to fines, prison time, your vehicle being impounded or AARTO demerits -once implemented,” adds Nagtegaal.

Many car modifications are often implemented by those who participate in illegal drag racing in South Africa:

Ok, my understanding is back on track. Let’s hit the road again… what modifications would be legal?

Don’t worry, your freedom of expression hasn’t been written off! In addition to most of the aesthetic, decorative and functional elements mentioned earlier, there are other valid enhancements. “Valid modifications are those that involve the fitment of manufacturer approved accessories that do not affect the warranty of vehicles,” according to Wheels24.

Basically, they would have a positive impact on the fuel economy, function and safety of the vehicle.

 These include:

  • Better and improved tyres that will increase the safety of the vehicle.
  • Enhanced lighting that will increase visibility on the roads at night.
  • Certain window tints that block out the sun or help prevent smash-and- grabs.
  • Computer re-mapping to boost engine performance

You have reached your destination…

Our journey may have can to an end, but now it’s time for you to take your brand new car for a spin and think about how you are going to “pimp” your ride legally and responsibly.

We’ve got your back!

Remember, if you’ve been pulled over, arrested and not sure what to do, as a LAW FOR ALL policyholder, you have access to a 24-hr legal advice hotline.

Be sure to have a look at LAW FOR ALL’s comprehensive policies and sign up today!

DISCLAIMER

4 Things You Should Never Post on Social Media in South Africa

If you are one of the estimated 2.77 billion people on social media, and our headline grabbed your attention,  you might want to close a few apps and pay attention. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, are great platforms for you (or your business) to share thoughts, opinions and communicate with followers. But, as we’ve seen over the last few years, you simply cannot say whatever you want on social media. Our laws are getting increasingly stricter, and there are things you should never post on social media in South Africa.

We know what you’re thinking! What about freedom of speech and expression? The Constitution certainly protects your rights, but that doesn’t mean you can post everything you want. Not only could hateful, harmful or offensive posts lead to a backlash from followers, your account can also be suspended. There’s also a chance you could face real-life legal consequences, too.

New social media laws and regulations in South Africa


South Africans have to think before posting anything online, or face jail time and hefty fines. If the Cyber Crimes and Cyber Security Bill, and Prevention of Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill) are signed into law, it will become a criminal offence to spread harmful or bigoted messages online.

4 Things You Should Never Post on Social Media

posting pictures on Facebook can get you in trouble

  1. Negative comments about your boss, colleagues or place of work.

Certain aspects of work life make for the perfect social media post! Whether it’s an inspirational quote for #MondayMotivation or a “groupfie” with colleagues winding down on a Friday afternoon. Though, you can get fired or hit with a lawsuit for saying the wrong thing on social media. Keep in mind that some types of posts can potentially damage your employer’s reputation and break down your relationship. In one case, employees wrote defamatory remarks about their boss to each other on Facebook. And, because their Facebook privacy settings did not restrict access, the comments were open to the public. Subsequently, the employer hit the staff members with a defamation lawsuit.

Read More: Why Employees Need to be Careful on Social Media,

  1. Racist remarks or offensive or racially charged posts

Social networks are flooded with envy-inducing holiday snaps and photos of globetrotter living their best lives. But no South African should ever take a vacation from respecting other citizens’ rights by making offensive and racist statements. You’ve probably heard in the news about businessman Adam Catzavelos who’s facing prosecution (in South African and abroad) for sharing a video where he utters the offensive and racist “K-word” while holidaying on a Greek island. The infamous Penny Sparrow also comes to mind. Sparrow referred to Black beach-goers as “monkeys” in a Facebook post. The Umzinto Equality Court found Sparrow guilty of crimen injuria and ordered her to pay R150 000 to charity. The Bill calls for prison sentences (of up to 3 years, and up to 5 years for repeat offenders) or fines for anyone who commits a verbal or physical attack that is found to be racist or hateful.

  1. Sexually explicit photos or videos without someone’s consent

In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of so-called “revenge porn”, where scorned ex-lover’s posts revealing media of their ex online as payback. Some countries, such as Israel, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Japan have already made it a crime to distribute sexually explicit material without someone’s consent. Locally, we are also seeing similar incidents. A recent South African case involved a 13-year-old school girl in Pretoria who committed suicide after an explicit image of her was illegally shared on various school WhatsApp groups. That particular incident is still under investigation. The proposed punishment for posting “revenge porn” is up to 3 years behind bars or a substantial fine.

Do note: Minors sharing nudes of themselves online could be charged for sharing child pornography in South Africa.

  1. Threats of violence and encouragement to destroy property belonging to certain group

The Cybercrimes Bill also covers any social media posts or digital messages that call for people to damage the personal property belonging to a specific “group of persons”. Basically, that means you cannot target or threaten to harm anyone or their property based on their race, sex or gender.

social-media-south-africa

Take a moment and think before you share

“Make sure that any content you post isn’t offensive or potentially harmful in nature. Also, if you are in a position where you have to curate online content- like an Administrator on a Facebook group- be sure to look out for any inappropriate or offensive posts, or you could also be held liable for what’s shared amongst members, ” emphasises Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal, LAW FOR ALL’s Managing Director.

This really cannot be emphasised enough – you absolutely have to think and rethink before you post anything potentially controversial or explicitly harmful on social media platforms. You simply have to ask yourself if it is worth it. Once you weigh up the pros and cons, you will probably find that keeping some thoughts to yourself is the best option.

We’ve got your back!

LAW FOR ALL’s experienced lawyers can provide legal advice and guidance on various matters. LAW FOR ALL is your friend in the law, so if you are unsure about a social media post, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Be sure to have a look at LAW FOR ALL’s comprehensive policies. Sign up today!

DISCLAIMER

Paid and Unpaid Internships in South Africa

Matric certificate? Check.

University degree? Check.

Full-time job? Pending.

Yes, time flies when you are raising kids, and in a blink of an eye, your child has become a young adult. The job search starts and your budding graduate will get ready to carve their own lives, earn money and achieve a new level of independence. But, there is one thing standing in their way of getting a full-time job: most companies require previous experience. There is no denying that an internship can help shape your child’s career, but can also cause a lot of stress and setbacks.
Let’s take a closer look at the hard realities of internships in South Africa:

I need a refresher… what exactly is an internship?

Essentially, it is a period of work experience in a specific company aimed at students or graduates who want to get exposure in an industry and a proverbial foot in the door. Typically, they can last, 3, 6 or 12 months, depending on the industry. Internships are usually paid or unpaid.

Paid vs unpaid internships in South Africa

The reality is that your kid will find themselves in a position where they will be working for free or very little compensation. They will be given tasks and duties similar to those of junior full-time salaried employees, but paid (if lucky) very little. What’s more, because they are seen as “temporary”, they are often required to bring their own laptops, but might be compensated for fuel and food.

That doesn’t seem fair…just how much are interns paid in South Africa?

A 2019 BusinessTech article featured an interview with Kerry Hugill, Head of Web at Friends of Design, who said: “We’ve seen job specs for year-long ‘internships’ that involve a huge amount of responsibility, with virtually zero supervision and full accountability. A lot of them would be a handful for a junior, let alone an intern, but instead of a junior’s salary they pay anything from R2k to R5k a month. That’s so far from fair compensation that it would laughable if it wasn’t so shocking.”

So, when you receive that call from your child asking for financial assistance, despite trying to get an income, it’s completely justified.

Here’s what an average cost of living looks like in comparison to an intern’s “salary”.

But what about the argument that you can’t put a price on work experience?

Of course, work experience is crucial for anyone who wants to make strides in an industry. But the reality is that we are living in times where young people know their worth and want to be compensated fairly. Basically, people should be paid for the work they do for a company.

We also shouldn’t ignore the psychological impact of not being paid fairly for work. It can absolutely affect an intern’s sense of worth, and can be severely demotivating.

What’s more, as Zipho Majova points out in a feature for Daily Maverick: “Too many young people gain experience and training skills from internships with the hope of permanency, only to go back to unemployment at the end of their internship. Will graduates be paid? While one can never understate the importance of experience, unpaid internships are undeniably exploitative”.

And it seems the younger generation is taking a stand against unpaid internships:

We also need to check our privilege…

Simply put, not only can some people simply not afford to do an internship because of the lack of adequate compensation, they often can’t “stick it out” because their parents don’t have the money to help them out. Majova says that Black graduates are mostly affected by this: “Unpaid internships are an unequivocal privilege reserved for graduates who come from families that are able and willing to support them financially… As a result, black graduates are faced with the bitter choice of either working for free, under the bare minimum or not working at all”.

I’m beginning to see the bigger picture… what’s being done about this?

Thankfully, the Government is stepping up with the Youth Employment Service (YES) initiative.  According to President Cyril Ramaphosa, the programme calls on local corporates, enterprises and communities to come together and empower the youth. “It is one of the ways in which social partners, be it business, government, communities and labour are working to provide what one would call pathways and opportunities for young people to get in the world of work. Participating young people will be placed in corporates. They will also be placed in a number of community hubs that are being created as micro-enterprises in various parts of our countries,” said the President. According to IOL, “Through YES, businesses will create a 12-month paid position for a youth between the ages of 18 and 35 with a minimum stipend of R3 500”.

How the law can make a difference

At LAW FOR ALL, we think that changes to the Labour laws could also make a significant impact. As it stands, South African law states that interns are employees because they are “rendering a personal service” and should need to be paid: “South Africa should look at making unpaid internships illegal. That way, recent graduates will be economically empowered from the get-go and feel like their time is valued.  Simply put: people need to be paid and paid fairly for any work they do for a company,” asserts Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal, LAW FOR ALL’s Managing Director.

LAW FOR ALL’s Paralegal Learnerships

LAW FOR ALL is adamant to break the cycle of youth unemployment and close the skills shortage gap. With our Paralegal Learnership, anyone between the ages of 18 and 30 with a Matric certificate can apply to start a rewarding legal career.

Upon successful completion of the programme and external verification by the Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA), learners will be regarded as competent and receive a National Certificate in Paralegal (NQF Level 5).  Participants are also given a monthly stipend of R5000.

How to apply for LAW FOR ALL’s Paralegal Learnership: 

  1. Simply complete the application form available on lawforall.co.za
  2. Attach certified copies of your Matric certificate and identity document.

For now, what can I do to help my child get a fair internship?

Find the right internship in South Africa will certainly be a tough task, and you have to make peace with the fact that will be probably have to help your child out financially while they get work experience and improve their CVs.

But you can help them find the best possible placement by:

  • Helping them with researching companies and their employment policies
  • Encourage them to create LinkedIn profiles
  • Help them craft a well-written and updated CV
  • Set up mock job interviews
  • Be upfront with them about how they will have to put in a lot of work and prove themselves
  • Let them know that you will support them emotionally and, if possible, financially should they find themselves being exploited and wanting to leave an internship

Putting in the work

The truth is, while we expect graduates to put in the work and prove themselves, we should also expect Government, companies and the law to make positive steps forward for the youth in South Africa. It’s one of the only ways that we are going to make a significant dent in the unemployment rate and break the cycle of poverty in the country.

DISCLAIMER

Challenges and Issues Facing the Youth: Tips for Parents to Empower Their Children

As a parent, you try everything: counting sheep, sipping chamomile tea, reading…but your mind races and your anxiety levels don’t subside. The tossing and turning seem endless, and before you know it, birds slowly start chirping in the early hours of the morning. You lost another night’s sleep to worrying about your child’s future. Will your kids pass their exams? Will they eventually find a job? Of course, stress comes with the territory, but your fears are valid. There are many challenges and issues facing the youth in South Africa.

Celebrating Youth Month: An Opportunity to Reflect

The country celebrates Youth Month in June, honouring the fearless students who put their lives on the line for the sake of equality and justice during the Soweto uprisings of 1976. We also turn the spotlight on the young South Africans of today and reflect on our hopes and dreams for tomorrow. While we have a progressive Constitution that protects the rights of children, growing up in Mzansi can still be tough.

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Empowering the Youth to Enforce Their Legal Rights

Understandably, there is a lot of responsibility that weighs heavily on the shoulders of parents who want nothing but the best for their children. Moms and dads have to navigate socio-economic issues and the fact that their child’s access to justice and the law often depends on them. It’s a struggle that LAW FOR ALL recognises. We work tirelessly to break down the barriers to justice and empower both parents and the youth to enforce their legal rights.

Ultimately, it’s part of our mission at LAW FOR ALL to eliminate those sleepless nights for parents and serve as reassurance that a just and equal society is certainly a possibility.

LAW FOR ALL’s #KASILAW Initiative

LAW FOR ALL is passionate about inspiring the legal minds of the future. So, in 2017, we launched the KasiLaw programme, which is a mentorships programme aimed at empowering learners in underprivileged communities. KasiLaw works with 43 learners between Grade 10 and Grade 12 from two schools, namely ID Mkize BCM High School and Oscar Mpetha High School situated in Nyanga East, Cape Town. Essentially, these learners are exposed to positive role models and Black professionals who mentor them and highlight how a career in the legal industry can change their lives.

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LAW FOR ALL explores these hot topics this Youth Month:

With these write-ups on common issues facing the youth in South Africa, we offer parents and teens valuable advice on how to handle tough situations, the law and their legal rights.

 

1. Teenage Pregnancy

While teen pregnancy is on the rise in South Africa, the gravity of the situation doesn’t quite hit home until your teenager is the one revealing she is with child. While emotions might be high, it’s essential to take a breath, keep your anger in check and put your child first. Of course, there are going to be some difficult discussions about the way forward, so parents need to know what all the options are -whether the baby will be kept, terminated or put up for adoption- and if there are any legal implications.

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2. Underage Drinking

Whether it’s through peer pressure or socials events, parents have to make peace with the fact that their children will be exposed to drinking alcohol at some point; in fact, an Aware.org survey found that 49% of high school learners have consumed alcohol. Underage drinking, which is illegal in South Africa, can have severe consequences, so parents need to not only have honest conversations about alcohol experimenting but also know what signs to look out for and how to go about addressing this issues facing the youth in South Africa.

 

3. Cheating in Tests & Exams

Considering all the socio-economic issues facing the youth in South Africa, it shouldn’t be too surprising that many try to take a few shortcuts when it comes to writing tests and trying to get a matric certificate with the hope of it leading to a better future. However, parents should warn their children about the dangers of cheating in exams as it can lead to disciplinary proceedings, expulsion or not being accepted to a tertiary education institution.

4. Paid and Unpaid Internships

It’s common to hear stories of recent graduates grinding away at an internship and carrying out the duties of a full-time employee. Often for very little, or in some cases zero compensation. This forces parents to step in and assist financially while their budding young professional tries to gain the necessary work experience. But with the cost of living rising, are unpaid or underpaid internships still even legal? Moreover, what conversations can parents have with their children about navigating employment and ensuring bosses don’t exploit them?

A brighter future for the youth of South Africa

We cannot lose sight of the fact that young people are our biggest hope to get our country to thrive and progress. Much like those brave students in 1976, it’s time for parents, society and Government to be bold and come together to make necessary sacrifices for the youth of South Africa.

We’ve Got Your Back!

LAW FOR ALL policies cover the main policyholder, their spouse, and dependent children. For more information on how LAW FOR ALL can protect you and your dependents have a look at our family-friendly policies here.

DISCLAIMER

I Think My Teenager is Drinking : The Signs and Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Raising a teenager is a tough task, no doubt. Your child is at a crucial stage of development, changing physically and emotionally. They are starting to think more independently and becoming curious about more “adult” aspects of life.  And while this transition is entirely natural and a part of life, the temptation to experiment with dangerous and addictive substances is also a reality. One of the biggest culprits is alcohol; in fact, alcohol abuse and underage drinking in South Africa are big problems.

I know my child is experimenting, but just how worried should I be? How bad is underage drinking in South Africa?

According to Aware.org, 50% of teenagers in South Africa drink alcohol.  One of the organisation’s studies also showed that someone who starts drinking under the age of 18, which is illegal, is four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than someone who starts consuming booze after the age of 20.

Just let that sink in for a moment…

Yes, the statistics are terrifying, and will probably increase your stress and number of sleepless nights. But, of course, the more you know about underage drinking in South Africa, the more you can do to address alcohol use with your teen.

drinking-underage-south-africa

Wow… I need a second.

Ok, what are the reasons for teenagers drinking alcohol?

Because you are dealing with your day-to-day life and duties as a parent, you might lose sight of the fact that your son or daughter is grappling with many personal issues and pressures, especially if your communication isn’t the best. Here are some of the most prominent:

  1. The “rebellious teenager” isn’t just a stereotype: teens often see the rules you (or teachers) set as attempts to control them a little too much, so they turn to alcohol as a form of rebellion.
  2. There’s the “cool factor”: most teenagers experience some form of peer pressure, and they would rather fit in with the “in crowd” than be ostracised or bullied.
  3. A sense of hopelessness: in a guide created by the Government and South African Breweries, it states that “with only half of our youths living in two-parent households, the prospect of 25% to 35% unemployment and only a small percentage of school leavers finding jobs, South African teenagers face a very uncertain future”. And it’s this uncertainty that might drive them to hit the bottle and drown their sorrows.
  4. Depression and anxiety: uncertainty, socio-economic circumstances and body issues also lead to mental health issues amongst the youth. For teens, consuming alcohol is a form of escapism from their seemingly unbearable reality.

alcohol-abuse-south-africa

This is a serious issue. I’m afraid to ask, but what are the effects of alcohol on teenagers?

Continuous abuse of alcohol can have severe consequences for minors… we’re talking about more than just a hangover.

The effects of abusing alcohol include:

  • A significantly reduced ability to concentrate and commit things to memory. Of course, this can have a devastating impact on their studies.
  • Getting involved with crime or becoming violent. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and the ability to make sound judgement, so teens are more likely to participate in dangerous and criminal situations, like car accidents and theft.
  • Aggravating thoughts of self-harm or suicide. Despite trying to use alcohol to escape their depressive episodes, it can exacerbate impulsive behaviour.
  • Perpetrating sexual assault. Alcohol abuse can make someone significantly more aggressive and impulsive and make them feel entitled to another’s body.
  • Making a teenager want to experiment with other harmful, illegal substances.
  • Increasing chances of sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancy because alcohol abuse can lead to high-risk sexual behaviour.

 

 

I wasn’t aware of this.  I need to talk to my child, but are there any signs of alcoholism I can look out for?

While teenagers certainly act erratically and become moody from time to time (remember, they have a lot to figure out), there are some red flags- especially if more than one happens often- that should prompt you to intervene:

As a parent, you should look out for:

  • Regular mood swings or angry outbursts
  • A drop in school attendance and test results
  • A dismissive and apathetic attitude
  • Leaving the house and staying out very late
  • Switching friendship groups often or hanging out with much older people.

We allow our children to have alcohol on special occasions at home. Is this illegal and adding to the problem of underage drinking in South Africa?

A big misconception about demystifying alcohol for teenagers is that allowing them to experience booze in a controlled environment will make them less like to experiment without your knowledge. However, according to Sandra Pretorius, director of Sanca Horizon Alcohol and Drug Centre: “Having alcohol at home isn’t going to prevent children from drinking with their peers where no supervision is available. And, of course, rewarding children with booze for excelling at school – something that 42% of parents in the UK sample group admitted to doing– is another no-no”.

You also need to keep the law in mind here. As Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal, LAW FOR ALL’s Managing Director, points out: “Not only is underage drinking in South Africa illegal, but The National Liquor Act (2003) says that no one may supply liquor to minors.” There is one exception: parents may, on occasion, give their child a moderate amount of alcohol, say for religious purposes, but it must be done under supervision.

It’s also important to remember that no one may sell alcohol to a minor, and a seller must make a reasonable effort to determine if the person buying booze is over 18.  Children are also not allowed to lie about their age or try to persuade someone else to buy alcohol for them.

The law is strict when it comes to alcohol, and anyone who doesn’t comply with these rules and regulations can be fined up to R1000 000 or face up to 5 years behind bars.

Open a bottle of communication and support, instead.

It’s always best to foster a home environment in which your children feel like they can talk to you about things and not be judged or disproportionately punished.  If they feel supported and loved, they will turn to you instead of a bottle of booze for help.

If you need additional help, you can reach out to the following:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous SA National Helpline: (0861 435 722)
  • Narconon South Africa: (011 622-3998)
  • Alateen General Service Number: (021 595-4508)
  • LifeLine: (0861 322 322)


DISCLAIMER

Our Daughter Just Told Us She’s Pregnant, What Do We Do?

“Mom…dad… I’m pregnant.”

Suddenly, the room goes gravely quiet and a wave of emotions come crashing in. Of course, no parent is ready to hear these words from their teenage daughter. You might have heard about this happening “to other people”, but never in your wildest dreams thought an unplanned pregnancy would derail your hopes and dreams for your child and her future.

But hold on a minute… it’s not entirely about you right now! The situation can be overwhelming and you might be left speechless, but now is probably not the best time to let your emotions get the best of you or to be at a loss for words. Whatever happens next will impact the rest of your child’s life. She needs you to put her wellbeing first.

It’s ok! You might not immediately have all the answers or know what options around teenage pregnancy are available, the fact that you’re reading this a step in the right direction to empower your teen to navigate unplanned motherhood and reassure her that she is loved and supported.

Did I do something wrong? What are the causes of teenage pregnancy in South Africa?

It’s a natural reaction to question your parenting, but don’t fall in the trap of taking on guilt around what went “wrong”. The reality is many teenagers have sex, and there are a number of reasons why teenage girls fall pregnant.

The topic of sex is still off-limits in many households and schools around the country. But, open communication about sex and reproductive health education is vital for teens to learn about safe sex, using contraceptives, what consent means and how to report sexual assault.

There are many misconceptions around the reason why some teenagers get pregnant. For example, many South Africans think that teen pregnancy is more prevalent amongst girls in rural areas because they want to receive child care grants from Government. However, statistics prove that this is simply not the case.

How often do girls fall pregnant? What are the teen pregnancy rates?

Teen pregnancy is not as uncommon as you might think. As the World Health Organisation points out, girls between the ages of 15 and 19 account for 11% of births around the world. Moreover, 95% of those teenagers who have given birth are from developing countries, like South Africa.

A 2018 report by Stats SA revealed more than 97 000 girls gave birth during the previous year.

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I’m an emotional wreck! Advice for parents on dealing with the initial shock of teenage pregnancy

Understandably, emotions are probably at an all-time high, Yes, there are some difficult discussions to have and tough decisions to make, but you will have to manage your anger or disappointment. It’s vital to remember that this isn’t the end of the world and that your daughter’s life isn’t over. She can still reach her full potential.

According to the Parent Centre, it’s best to process emotions with your significant other, friends or a therapist. Put your child first because the effects of teenage pregnancy on the mother can be a lot to deal with. Hear her out, don’t judge her, be a shoulder to cry on and give guidance, and make sure she sees a medical professional ASAP to get the right medical care.

Yes, it is a complicated situation, and it’s an issue even MTV highlighted in its popular show titled 16 and Pregnant. One episode focused on the complexities of teenage pregnancy in South Africa.

How did I miss this? What are the early signs of teenage pregnancy?

If you’ve noticed your teenager acting differently, and you suspect she might be pregnant, there are some early signs of teenage pregnancy you can look out for.

According to popular health advice website WebMD, some of the classic symptoms of teen pregnancy include:

  • Missing a menstrual period
  • Nausea or vomiting (a.k.a. morning sickness which actually can happen any time of day)
  • Avoiding fatty or fried foods and meat
  • Urinating frequently
  • Sensitive or painful nipples or breasts.
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings.

Keep in mind that, while missing a menstrual period is certainly a classic sign of pregnancy for adults, it’s not as clear-cut for teens. Girls are still developing physically, so their periods might not be regular just yet. What’s more, intense dieting, exercise and anorexia can also disrupt girls’ menstrual cycles.

What are the legal options when it comes to teenage pregnancy in South Africa?

After learning that your daughter is pregnant and dealing with the emotional aftermath, you and your child might be having “what now?” moments and thinking about the future. But to curb the confusion, helplessness and to ensure she doesn’t make any big decisions lightly, it’s important to learn about her legal rights and keep in mind that she does have many options:

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1. Keeping the baby

If your daughter decides she wants to be a mother, you will have to put your personal beliefs aside and continue protecting your daughter’s Constitutional rights, which include the rights to health care and basic education (more on education a little later). Your child having a child does not make her an adult, and you are still their legal guardians, which means you are still responsible for upholding their legal rights. Also, get ready to be doting grandparents!

Encourage your daughter to see a therapist who can help her navigate the emotional and physical challenges of carrying out a pregnancy. There is also the option to sign her up for a pregnancy series, like The Parent Centre’s Teen Parenting programme.

If your daughter knows her child’s dad, it’s best to contact him and his family to discuss a way forward. That way, the financial burden of raising a child doesn’t fall on your family alone. Both parents have a duty to pay maintenance, and if they can’t the grandparents will have to chip in.

Naturally, there will be some added financial strain with regular medical check-ups, the actual delivery and buying all the necessary items for the baby after birth.

Having the father involved in his baby’s life from the get-go is usually in a child’s best interest. Unfortunately, widespread ideas of “dead beat dads” often mean teen fathers are not told about their children. But research by academic scholars Sphiwe Madiba and Carol Nsiki showed that “most teen fathers desired to be good fathers and tried to fulfil their perceived fatherhood roles”.  And should a teen dad decide to take responsibility, contribute to the baby’s upbringing and embrace fatherhood, he will then have full parental rights as well, unless a court deems otherwise.

2. Putting the baby up for adoption in South Africa

In recent years, there has been a sharp decline in adoptions in South Africa,  but giving up the baby for adoption is still a viable option. If your daughter decides to put her baby up for adoption, it’s a good idea to consult a therapist or an accredited social worker to guide your family through the process.

It might feel like the right decision, but it’s still a big one! Your teen will have to give written permission to put the baby up for adoption, and you will also have to sign-off on her decision. Of course, she can change her mind and withdraw consent within 60 days of signing the paperwork. Remember, if you know who the dad is and you know how to get in touch with him, you will have to tell him about the potential adoption. The law gives the father the option to challenge the process or adopt the baby himself. 

3. Having an abortion in South Africa

“Abortion” is a scary word that carries a lot of stigma and invokes various emotional viewpoints. In South Africa, it is certainly legal for a teen mother to get an abortion up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Getting an abortion at a later stage in the pregnancy is also possible, but only if the mother or baby’s health is in danger.

Choosing to terminate a pregnancy requires a lot of thought and sensitivity. Of course, it’s an invasive and potentially traumatic experience for anyone, so hesitation is completely understandable. Once again, extensive counselling is recommended.

Keep in mind that pregnant teenagers do not need their parents’ consent to get an abortion. All the more reason for you to be open and compassionate from the get-go since it’s best for your child to feel loved and supported, should she decide that this is best for her.

Your daughter has the right to a safe abortion carried out by a qualified medical practitioner. This can be done medically (with an abortion pill) or surgically. The physical recovery period is within a couple of weeks, but the emotional healing could take much longer.

Teen moms and attending school in South Africa

Your daughter might be embarrassed by falling pregnant and scared of being mocked by her peers. But, of course, a good education is essential for her and her baby’s financial future. What more, legally speaking, pregnancy does not mean a child’s basic right to education disappears, and they cannot be denied access to schooling.

It goes without saying, but schools are not allowed to discriminate against pregnant pupils by suspending or expelling them or even by denying them to write exams. Learners can also not be prohibited from returning to school after giving birth.

The best way to deal with your pregnant teen returning to school is to set up a meeting with the principal to discuss the way forward and get clarity on:

  • How long your daughter can remain in school before needing to take time off to deliver the baby
  • When, realistically, your child will be allowed to return to school after giving birth
  • Whether the teachers can formulate a catch-up plan for the work she misses
  • The possibility of sending homework while your child is at home.

It’s important to get this meeting recorded and the agreement signed by everyone involved.

Protect your child’s future

Dealing with teenage pregnancy is complicated and emotionally taxing, without a doubt. But being a parent means doing what you can to protect and empower your child, and part of that is knowing how the law is on your side. If parents don’t feel powerless, it will give children hope and motivation to carry on and reach their potential.

We’ve got your back!

We understand you probably still have many questions. LAW FOR ALL’s experienced lawyers can provide legal advice and guidance on matters relating to children’s rights, parental rights, adoption, abortion, and legal action against schools.

Be sure to have a look at LAW FOR ALL’s comprehensive policies. Sign up today!

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I Don’t Want my Child to Cheat on Their Future: Schooling Parents on How to Prep Kids for Exams

Writing exams for students is much like paying taxes for adults: it’s inevitable and trying! Yes, it’s that time of the year when your child seems to be a little more “on edge” than usual. And, it’s very likely because a bunch of important tests are fast approaching and exam stress is already starting to take its toll. Their workload is piling up. Teachers are constantly reminding pupils about exam preparations. You also might always be telling your child that they need to excel at school to have a bright future. These kinds of pressure are why learners consider taking shortcuts without thinking about the dangers of cheating in exams in South Africa

Of course, trying to take shortcuts during a test can have severe consequences and hurt that glistening future you want for your child. Thankfully, LAW FOR ALL is here to school (pun intended!) you on the dangers of cheating in an exam, possible disciplinary procedures and exam tips for parents (yes, you need some lessons, too!)

Class is in session!

Lesson 1 (Recent History): the state of education, matric pass rates in South Africa and the importance of a matric certificate.

The quality of education in South Africa is a controversial topic. Many schools lack the necessary resources- whether it’s textbooks, facilities or, in some cases, qualified teachers- to give learners the adequate tools and knowledge to prepare for the all-important matric exams.  And, yes, your child’s future hangs in the balance.

But there have also been many misleading claims about the state of education in the country. Researchers Gopolang Makou and Kate Wilkinson found that some statements are distorted and incorrect. Their research showed that in 2017, “ 401,208 pupils (of the 534,4843 who wrote the National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams) received the necessary pass to apply for a place at one of South Africa’s universities to study for a bachelor’s degree, diploma or higher certificate”.

And if you are thinking the higher my child’s education, the better chance they have of getting a job, you are 100% correct. As Statistics SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the fourth quarter of 2018 points out, only 1,7% of unemployed people in South Africa are graduates. And it all starts with obtaining that matric certificate, and that pressure can take its toll on your child.

Lesson 2 (General Knowledge): why your child might crib on a test, and the dangers of cheating in exams in South Africa.

With the exam dates on the horizon and a particularly complicated maths test to prepare for, your child is undoubtedly feeling the pressure to cramp in a vast amount of knowledge is a short period. And, the fact is- they might panic, and think of ways to cheat on a test.

As exam season approaches, you should look out for tell-tale signs of stress and support your kid in any way you can (we’ll give you more guidance in Life Orientation class a little later!). Pupils often think that sneaking few notes into the exam hall, writing formulas on their fingers nails, scribbling answers in invisible ink or loading test answers onto a smartwatch are sure-fire ways to cheat and go undetected, but the truth is teachers and invigilators are trained to look out for any suspicious behaviour. What’s more, in China, schools are even going so far as to use drones to catch exam cheaters.

Moral of the story: chances are slim that your son or daughter will get away with cheating. And, they face penalties that can derail their future.

DETENTION! Disciplinary hearings, suspension, expulsion and other dangers of cheating in exams in South Africa

Don’t think your child will simply get a proverbial slap on the wrist and continue as usual.  As Dr Gillian Mooney from the Independent Institute of Education states:Every year, without fail, we hear about scores of matriculants whose results are held back, who face criminal charges, who are banned from writing NSC exams for years, and who spend ages in court as a result of cheating. Quite simply, it is not worth it”.

In most schools, pupils that cheat in exams or that posses and circulate any material that might give them an unfair advantage are guilty of serious misconduct. Getting caught will in all likelihood lead to being suspended or even expelled if it isn’t the first time.

“Remember, the South African Schools Act gives pupils the right to state their case in a disciplinary hearing held by the governing body,” says Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal, LAW FOR ALL’s Managing Director.

If your child is guilty, the governing body may suspend them, but not for longer than seven days. But, only the Head of Department is allowed to expel a pupil guilty of committing serious misconduct. Pupils have the right to appeal to the Head of Department’s decision. This must be done with a Member of the Executive Council within 14 days of receiving an expulsion notice.

There is also a special irregularities committee, comprising union representatives, circuit managers, investigators and subject specialists from the Department of Educations, that oversees matric exams and decides on the appropriate punishment for cheaters. The committee has a no tolerance approach. In the past culprits have had to wait a year to write the NSC exams again. But, it isn’t just cheating that could land pupils in trouble. Using vulgar language in an exam script isn’t just inappropriate; it is also punishable. Leaking an exam paper could also lead to Pupils who do this could face criminal charges for theft.

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Lesson 3 (Life Orientation): Prevention is better than cure, tips for parents to help their children prepare for exams

Try to avoid placing added pressure on your child to ace their exams. Rather focus on creating an environment that helps them perform to the best of their abilities.

Parent24 suggests the following exam stress tips for your kids:

  • Encourage healthy sleeping patterns by turning off all electronic devices 30 minutes before bed time. This will allow your child to rest their mind and body.
  • Cut out food and drinks with high levels of caffeine or sugar- these can disrupt sleep. Incorporate meals with plenty of Omega 3 to help the brain.
  • Remind your child to take regular study breaks. Relaxation is key for the retention of information.
  • Set realistic goals and implement a reward system.
  • Without nagging too much, remind your child to prepare in advance to avoid last-minute cramming the night before a test.
  • Let them know that you are there if they need someone to quiz them.

Ding, ding, ding! School’s out!

Congratulations, you’ve graduated with flying colours! Exam time is unavoidable and will always go hand in hand with a bit of stress. But, cheating because of life’s pressures is never right or worth it. Warn your child on the dangers of cheating in exams, ensuring they don’t ultimately cheat on their future.

We’ve got your back!

We understand you probably still have many questions. LAW FOR ALL’s experienced lawyers provide legal advice relating to children’s rights, disciplinary hearing and legal action against schools.

Be sure to have a look at LAW FOR ALL’s comprehensive policies. Sign up today!

DISCLAIMER