The biological father of a 14-year-old boy has been arrested after allegedly “forcefully abducting” the child from his mother’s house in Pretoria on Sunday.
In terms of the 21-day lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, no one is allowed to leave their homes unless under strictly controlled circumstances, including seeking medical care, buying food, medicine or other supplies and collecting social grants.
The lockdown took effect on Friday.
Government has clarified its stance on children moving between parents during the lockdown, saying it is forbidden and that a child must remain with the parent he or she was with when the lockdown was effected.
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said at an inter-ministerial briefing on Saturday that the new regulations “clearly states” that the movement of children between their “co-holders” is prohibited.
Following this incident, the deputy minister in the presidency responsible for women, youth and persons with disabilities, Hlengiwe Mkhize, said she was concerned about cases of child abduction.
On Sunday, Mkhize said: “Government pronounced that there shall be no movement during the 21-day lockdown period, which is aimed at flattening the curve of the coronavirus, and it is reckless that a father can drive to a mother’s house and, without permission, take the child…”
Mkhize has appealed for compliance “during these unprecedented times that South Africa finds itself in”.
The father has been arrested and is being detained at the Lyttleton police cells in Pretoria. The child has been reunited with his mother.
“We want our children to be safe during this moment, and urge police to not turn away frustrated parents or guardians who would want to report cases that may include abduction, among others.”
The deputy minister has appealed to the security cluster not to let their guard down and act decisively on matters of violence against women and children during the lockdown.
“We simultaneously call on parents and caregivers to ensure that children are cared for and not left unattended during the nationwide lockdown, as advised by the department of social development,” Mkhize said.
South Africa recorded its second coronavirus death on Sunday, as the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country reached 1,280.