n South African Law Journal - Ten-year anniversary of the Maintenance Act 99 of 1998 - a time to reflect on improvements, shortcomings and the way forward




Through qualitative research as well as a literature review, this article examines whether the innovations of the Maintenance Act 99 of 1998 and certain government initiatives implemented since the enactment of this Act have succeeded in improving the operation of South Africa's maintenance system. First, the innovations of the Act (such as the appointment of maintenance investigators, maintenance payments by way of a lump sum, orders by default against recalcitrant maintenance debtors, the civil execution of maintenance orders and the shift in the onus to prove lack of means upon criminal prosecution) and the government initiatives (such as the transunion ITC information support service, Operation Isondlo, the Justice Deposit Account System (JDAS) and the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) system) are set out. Secondly, the qualitative research undertaken at grass-roots level in maintenance courts across the country and the results thereof (as obtained from questionnaires to regional heads, accounts clerks, maintenance officers and maintenance investigators) are explained. Lastly, certain findings and recommendations are made - although the South African maintenance system has improved greatly over the past ten years, areas relating to manpower, practices and procedures, training, infrastructure, attitudes and the dynamics between different court officials still need more attention.


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