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Net closes on child maintenance dodgers

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The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development will soon start using both available public and private data sources to trace maintenance defaulters and beneficiaries

File picture: AP Photo/Denis Farrell

THERE will soon be nowhere to hide for child maintenance defaulters as the government is preparing to use all available public and private information to trace deadbeat parents.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development will soon start using both available public and private data sources to trace maintenance defaulters and beneficiaries.

This is contained in a plan of the department seen by Independent Media.

The department will unleash data sources able to trace the whereabouts of persons to investigate maintenance cases and enforce other related enforcement orders.

Documents obtained by Independent Media show that the department will use registered cellphone and telephone numbers, current, associated and historical contacts, company registrations, credit profiles, payment history including default and all other court judgments and collections, property purchases, sales and transfers as well as vehicle registrations to trace child maintenance defaulters.

The proposed system will provide the department with the ability to trace defaulters and beneficiaries through identity, passport and permit numbers, date of birth, name and surname, residential address, known contact numbers and previous residential addresses of individuals the defaulter or beneficiary was closely associated with.

Defaulters liable to pay maintenance and beneficiaries will also be traced through companies and/or financial institutions’ details to unearth information such as full names of individuals linked to the company, its shareholding or interest, known, associated or historical residential addresses, employers, payment or credit profiles, account payment history, bank account details and business information.

The system will be able to list all enquiries made on a defaulter or beneficiary including information on the person making the enquiry and those made by courts.

Investigators are expected to make use of Consumer Protection Act data indicating the defaulter or beneficiary or their company’s financial ability and viability.

Court records to be combed include high court judgments, magistrate court civil judgments, provisional and final sequestrations, notary and deeds registry details and all properties in the defaulter or beneficiary’s name as well as property sales and transfers of businesses or assets and transferees’ details.

Other information will be obtained through motor vehicle registrations and transfers including all current and previous ownership.

Maintenance investigators will also comb through motor vehicle registration authorities, financing institutions, payment status whether paid-up or still under credit, vehicle identification or chassis number, ownership history and changes to find defaulters and beneficiaries.

The proposed system will be secure and protect information against infiltration by unscrupulous third parties and will not allow access by unauthorised users, allowing the department to monitor usage and trace it back to unauthorised user.

Tracing is expected to be available in about 600 magistrate’s courts and Department of Justice and Constitutional Development regional offices across the country.

The department has indicated that its tracing of maintenance defaulters and beneficiaries at courts has accelerated and improved maintenance services and contributed to the alleviation of dependency on social grants.

In 2019/20, the department’s Justice Administered Fund (JAF), which was established in 2018 for the safe-keeping of money received in compliance with maintenance orders and bail, maintenance made payments of more than R972 million by the end of March last year.

More than R1.9m in unclaimed maintenance money was held by the fund in this period.

The JAF receives and pays maintenance on behalf of maintenance defendants and plaintiffs respectively and administers these on behalf of the parties, which may include the employers of the defendants.

”Any unpaid monies have to be dealt with through court processes, as this is a civil matter and JAF only acts as an intermediary.

“JAF only deals with monies received through it by order of court and distributes these monies as speedily as possible after being received from defendants and/or their employers,” the fund said.

Justice Department spokesperson Chrispin Phiri did not respond to Independent Media’s questions on Saturday.

Political Bureau