Home South African Increase in maintenance defaulters since outbreak of Covid, says minister

Increase in maintenance defaulters since outbreak of Covid, says minister

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Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said that maintenance courts have dealt with about 35,000 maintenance cases at the end of the 2020/21 financial year.

Minister Ronald Lamola. File picture: ANA/Phando Jikelo

JUSTICE and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola said there were a total of 16,435 maintenance defaulters that the courts have dealt with since between April and July 2021.

“Of the 16,435 cases, enforcement orders in the form of emolument attachment orders and warrant of attachment of debts were issued in respect of 2,555 cases,” Lamola said.

He made the statement when he was responding to parliamentary questions from IFP MP Themba Msimang.

Msimang asked about the number of maintenance defaulting cases the department has and whether the number had been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In his response, Lamola explained that a “maintenance defaulter” was a person against whom a maintenance court order has been issued but fails to comply in full or in part with the said order for a period exceeding 10 days from the date of the court order’s issuing.

The minister also said the number of defaulter cases has increased since the outbreak of the Covid-19.

He said the maintenance courts have dealt with about 35,000 maintenance cases at the end of the 2020/21 financial year.

Lamola noted that the figures were already drawing to half of last year, with eight months left before the end of the 2021/22 financial year.

“This may be attributed to job losses as a result of Covid-19 and changes in parties’ personal circumstances.”

The minister also said new applications could not be enrolled during the first lockdown, which was proclaimed in March 2020.

“Similarly, pending inquiries could not be proceeded with. The situation returned to normal with the announcement of lower alert levels,” he said.

“The courts are grappling with the backlog of matters, which accumulated during the lockdown,” Lamola said.

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