Maintenance Defaulters Beware!

Maintenance DefaultersPresident Jacob Zuma has signed the much-criticised Maintenance Amendment Act (Act No 9 of 2015) into law‚ a statement said today.

“The aim of the Act is to amend the Maintenance Act‚ 1998 (Act No 99 of 1998)‚ in order to improve the maintenance system‚” the Presidency said.

The Act‚ the statement said‚ seeks to further regulate:

  • The lodging of the complaints relating to the maintenance and the jurisdiction of the maintenance courts;
  • The investigation of the maintenance complaints;
  • The securing of witnesses for purposes of maintenance enquiry;
  • Maintenance enquiries in order to make a provision for the granting of the interim maintenance orders;
  • The circumstances in which the maintenance orders may be granted by default;
  • The granting of cost orders;
  • The effect a maintenance order made by a maintenance court has on maintenance order made by another court;
  • The transfer of maintenance orders
  • The reporting of a maintenance defaulter to any business which has its object the granting of credit or is involved in the credit rating of persons;
  • The attachments of emoluments; and
  • The conversion of criminal proceedings into maintenance enquiries.

It will also “create certain new offences” as well as “increase the penalties for certain offences”.

Some critics have said the amendment is window-dressing.

They argue that‚ while the parts of it that require maintenance orders violators to be listed with credit bureaus so they are unable to get further credit until they pay child maintenance owed is perhaps a positive step‚ there is a large question mark about its enforceability.

The Democratic Alliance’s Women’s Network (DAWN) earlier this year campaigned to retain the “clause allowing maintenance defaulters to be blacklisted” despite what it said was attempts by the African National Congress in Parliament to remove it.

DAWN in May said it “spearheaded a campaign to force the ANC to backtrack on this decision‚ and…the ANC buckled under our pressure”.


This article originally appeared on