n Stellenbosch Law Review = Stellenbosch Regstydskrif - Seatbelt legislation in South Africa - failure to uphold the rights of children

Volume 24, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1016-4359
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2193



The protection of children is a key objective of United Nations conventions and State legislation, and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 itself prioritises the protection and welfare of children in South African society. In many high risk situations children are protected by appropriate and proactive legislation. In one key area, however, the South African legislation is failing South African children and exhibiting not only a blatant disregard for their protection in a particularly dangerous context, but also limiting protection for these most vulnerable persons on the basis of age. This is in the arena of seatbelt legislation. The argument made in this paper is that Regulation 213 promulgated under the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 represents a direct breach not only of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and the South African Children's Act 38 of 2005, but is also a direct breach of a number of rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights. These include the right to life, to freedom and security of the person, and to equality. As it stands the regulation creates a system in which adults are afforded better legal protection than children, and where it is lawful and acceptable for young children under the age of three years to be transported in a vehicle without the protection of a seatbelt or child restraint system. Given that South African children face some of the highest risks of injury and premature mortality through traffic collisions in the world, this breach has a direct and immediate impact on the safety of South African children.

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