Membership information 0800 225 677
Medicolegal advice 0800 014 780

Appendix 1 - Key legislation referred to in the text

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa no. 108 of 1996

The Bill of Rights in the Constitution enshrines the rights of citizens to human dignity and to freedom and security of the person. In the case of children, their interests must be of paramount importance in any matter pertaining to them.

National Health Act no. 61 of 2003

Section 7 protects the rights of competent health service users to consent to treatment and places a duty of health service providers to “take all reasonable steps to obtain the user’s informed consent”.

Section 8 stipulates that health care users have the right to participate in decisions affecting their health and treatment. Furthermore, it requires health service providers to share relevant information with users who lack the capacity to make decisions “unless the disclosure of such information would be contrary to the user’s best interests”.

Child Care Act no. 74 of 1983

This Act will be repealed when the Children’s Act comes fully into force. It sets the age at which a minor may consent to medical treatment without parental consent at 14. The consent of parents is required for surgical treatment of a minor.

Children’s Act no. 38 of 2005

This Act sets the age of majority at 18 and the age at which a child may consent to medical and surgical treatment at 12. It confers on children of 12 or older the right to consent to HIV tests and to purchase condoms without their parents' consent.

The Act also introduced important rights protecting children from undergoing virginity tests and circumcision against their will. The General Regulations Regarding Children (Regulation 261) set out how the provisions of the legislation should be implemented. They can be downloaded (including relevant consent forms) here.

Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act no. 92 of 1996

This legislation allows a girl of any age to have a termination of pregnancy. There is no age or maturity test.

Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act no 32 of 2007

Alleged sexual offenders may be subjected to mandatory HIV tests under this legislation.