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2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - South Africa

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 27 August 2008
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - South Africa, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa490c.html [accessed 1 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor3133
Working children, 5-14 years (%):
Working boys, 5-14 years (%):
Working girls, 5-14 years (%):
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:15
Compulsory education age:15
Free public education:No*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2004:106
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2004:88
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%):
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2003:82
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes
* Must pay for miscellaneous school expenses.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Working children in South Africa are often found in family enterprises, primarily in agriculture and trade. A higher proportion of children in rural areas than urban areas are engaged in some type of work.3134 Children work in commercial and subsistence farms or as domestic servants.3135 Children also work as vendors, car guards, trolley attendants, shop assistants, and taxi conductors.3136 Children are employed in taverns and liquor outlets to clean, stock supplies, prepare food, and serve alcohol.3137 Children are also used to scavenge landfills and dumpsites for recyclable materials.3138 Some children become engaged in prostitution to increase their family's income.3139

South Africa is a country of origin, transit, and destination for children trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labor.3140 Children are trafficked from Tanzania, Eastern Europe, China, Thailand, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe into South Africa for sexual exploitation.3141 Some children are trafficked to South Africa from other African countries and sent to Europe for commercial sexual exploitation.3142 Boys are trafficked to South Africa from Mozambique and Malawi for agricultural work. A small number of girls are trafficked from Swaziland into South Africa for domestic servitude.3143 Children are also trafficked from rural areas to urban areas within South Africa for domestic service and commercial sexual exploitation.3144 South African girls are occasionally trafficked to Asian and European countries for sexual exploitation.3145

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law establishes the minimum age for employment as 15 years.3146 Employers may hire children less than 15 years to work in the performing arts with permission from the South African Department of Labor.3147 Children who are under 18 years may not perform work that is harmful to their well-being and development.3148 The Minister of Labor is authorized to set additional restrictions on the employment of children 15 years and above.3149 The law provides for the right of every child, defined as a person less than 18 years, to be protected from age-inappropriate and exploitive labor practices.3150 The penalty for illegally employing a child under the law is a fine or a maximum jail term of 3 years.

The law prohibits all forms of forced labor and establishes a maximum penalty of 3 years in prison for imposing forced labor on another person.3151 The law specifically bans child trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The maximum penalty for violating the law is 20 years imprisonment.3152 The law establishes 18 years as the minimum age for voluntary military service, military training, and conscription, even in times of national emergency.3153

The South African Department of Labor (SADOL) is tasked with enforcing child labor laws. As of 2007, there are approximately 1,600 labor inspectors nationwide, who have the responsibility of enforcing labor laws, including those involving child labor. According to USDOS, the SADOL has difficulty gaining access to private property to enforce the law.3154

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of South Africa continues to implement a national action program to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.3155 Specific goals of this program include promoting new laws to combat the worst forms of child labor, increasing the Government's capacity to enforce the law, and raising awareness about child labor.3156 The Government provides assistance to impoverished children 14 years and under to help them meet basic necessities and stay out of the workforce.3157 The Government launched a policy in early 2007 to prevent schools in the poorest quintile of the country from charging school fees.3158 During the reporting period, the Government also established an interagency team to improve its efforts to combat trafficking.3159

The Government of South Africa is participating in a USD 5 million USDOL-funded regional child labor project in Southern Africa implemented by ILO-IPEC, which includes South Africa.

Efforts in South Africa are focused on supporting the Government of South Africa's Child Labor Program of Action by raising awareness, enhancing capacity for policy implementation and monitoring, and through direct action programs.3160 This project aims to withdraw 688 children and prevent 2,216 children from engaging in exploitive labor.3161 The Government is also participating in a USD 9 million regional Child Labor Education Initiative project funded by USDOL in Southern Africa with the support of the American Institutes for Research. This project aims to improve the quality and access to education for South African children who are working in, or are at risk of working in, the worst forms of child labor. Over its lifetime, the project intends to prevent 10,000 children in five countries, including South Africa, from engaging in exploitive labor.3162 IOM is implementing a USAID-funded project that will prepare civil society groups to raise public awareness on human trafficking and provide direct assistance to trafficking victims.3163


3133 For statistical data not cited here, see the Data Sources and Definitions section. For data on ratifications and ILO-IPEC membership, see the Executive Summary. For minimum age for admission to work, age to which education is compulsory, and free public education, see Government of South Africa, Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997, (December 5, 1997), articles 43(1)(a)(b), 43(3), 93; available from http://www.workinfo.com/free/Sub_for_legres/data/bcea1998.htm. See also Government of South Africa, South African Schools Act, No. 84 of 1996, (November 15, 1996), chapter 2, sections 3(1), 5, 6; available from http://www.info.gov.za/acts/1996/a84-96.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, reporting, January 11, 2008, para 1d. See also U.S. Department of State, "South Africa," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007 Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100505.htm.

3134 Dawie Bosch & Associates, Towards a National Child Labour Action Programme for South Africa, Pretoria, October 2002, 19; available from http://www.labour.gov.za/useful_docs/doc_display.jsp?id=9504.

3135 U.S. Department of State, reporting, January 11, 2008, para 1e. See also Judith Streak, "Harvesting Childhood: causes, nature, and impact of child agricultural labour," HSRC Review 5, no. 3 (September 2007); available from http://www.hsrc.ac.za/HSRC_Review_Article-61.phtml. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports2007: South Africa," section 6e. See also Debbie Budlender and Dawie Bosch, Child Domestic Workers: A National Report; No 39, ILO-IPEC, Geneva, May, 2002, ix,xii; available from http://datafirst.cssr.uct.ac.za/resource/papers/budlender_2002.pdf.

3136 ILO-IPEC, HIV/AIDS and Child Labour in South Africa: A rapid assessment, Paper No. 4, March 2003, 27, 38.

3137 Andrew Charman, A rapid assessment of children making and selling liquor in South Africa, ILO-IPEC, Pretoria, August, 2006, 8,10; available from http://www.child-labour.org.za/forms-of-CL/sectors/liquor/study-onchild-work-in-the-liquor-industry/.

3138 Saranel Benjamin, A rapid assessment on scavenging and waste recycling work by children in South Africa, ILO-IPEC, Pretoria, October, 2007, 7-9; available from http://www.child-labour.org.za/south-africa/documents-and-laws/research-reports/children-involved-in-scavenging-on-waste-dumps/child-scavenging-study-report/

3139 South African Department of Labour, Commercial and sexual exploitation of children and child trafficking: A South African national situation analysis, Pretoria, May 2006, 18; available from http://www.child-labour.org.za/south-africa/forms-of-child-labour/worst-forms-of-child-labour/child-trafficking/study-on-trafficking-and-sexual-exploitation/. See also U.S. Consulate – Johannesburg, reporting, September 3, 2004, para 10.

3140 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: South Africa," section 5.

3141 U.S. Department of State, "South Africa (Tier 2 Watch List)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82807.htm. See also UNESCO, Human Trafficking in South Africa: Root Causes and Recommendations, Paris, 2007, 21; available from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001528/152823E.pdf. See also South African Department of Labour, CSEC of children and child trafficking, 15. See also International Organization for Migration, The Trafficking of Women and Children in the Southern African Region, Pretoria, March 24, 2003, 11-12; available from http://www.iom.int/documents/publication/en/southernafrica%5Ftrafficking.pdf.

3142 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: South Africa." See also UNESCO, Human Trafficking in South Africa, 23.

3143 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: South Africa." See also South African Department of Labour, CSEC of children and child trafficking, 15.

3144 U.S. Consulate – Johannesburg, reporting, September 3, 2004, para 5. See also South African Department of Labour, CSEC of children and child trafficking, 14,16. See also UNESCO, Human Trafficking in South Africa, 24.

3145 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: South Africa."

3146 Government of South Africa, Basic Conditions of Employment Act, articles 43(1)(a)(b), 43(3), 93.

3147 U.S. Department of State, reporting, January 11, 2008, para 1a. See also South African Department of Labour, Sectoral Determination 10: Children in the Performance of Advertising, Artistic and Cultural Activities, 2004; available from http://www.labour.gov.za/legislation/sectoral_display.jsp?id=7213.

3148 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: South Africa," section 6d. See also Government of South Africa, Amended Basic Conditions of Employment Act, (2002), article 43 (1-2); available from http://www.labour.gov.za/act/section_detail.jsp?legislationId=5538&actId=6178&sectionId=6980.

3149 Government of South Africa, Basic Conditions of Employment Act, articles 44(1), 44(2).

3150 Government of South Africa, Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, (December 10, 1996), chapter 2, sections 28(3), 28(1)(e) and (f); available from http://www.info.gov.za/documents/constitution/1996/96cons2.htm#13.

3151 Government of South Africa, Basic Conditions of Employment Act, article 93, 43(1)(a)(b), 43(3), 44(2), and 48.

3152 Government of South Africa, The Children's Act of 2005, (July 2007), articles 284-285; available from http://www.child-labour.org.za/south-africa/documents-and-laws/legislation/other/childrens-act/childrens-act-the-act-and-draft-amendments/Childrens%20Act%2038%20of%202005.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: South Africa," section 5. See also U.S. Department of State, reporting, January 11, 2008, para 1a.

3153 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "South Africa," in Child Soldiers Global Report online, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=797.

3154 U.S. Department of State, reporting, January 11, 2008, para 1b. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: South Africa," section 6d.

3155 U.S. Department of State, reporting, January 10, 2007, para 1d.

3156 Government of South Africa, The National Child Labour Action Programme for South Africa, Draft 4.10, Pretoria, October 2003, 4; available from http://www.labour.gov.za/useful_docs/doc_display.jsp?id=9503.

3157 U.S. Department of State, reporting, January 10, 2007, para 1c. See also, Government of South Africa, National Child Labour Action Programme, 19.

3158 ILO-IPEC, Towards the Elimination of Child Labor, technical progress report, Geneva, September 24, 2007, 4.

3159 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: South Africa," section 5.

3160 ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-Bound Programme to eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor in South Africa's Child labor Action Programme and laying the basis for concerted action against Worst Forms of Child Labor in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland, Project Document, September 30, 2003, 30.

3161 ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-Bound Programme to eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor in South Africa's Child labor Action Programme and laying the basis for concerted action against Worst Forms of Child Labor in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland, Project Revision, November 3, 2006, annex 2.

3162 American Institutes for Research, Reducing Exploitive Child Labor Southern Africa (RECLISA), Project Document, Washington September 8, 2005, 17-19.

3163 U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID Anti-Trafficking in Persons Programs in Africa: A Review Washington D.C., April 2007, 63; available from http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PDACJ521.pdf. See also

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