An article published in the Sunday World, “No papgeld for [_]’s love-child,” (07/03/2010, p.3) about a celebrity father who allegedly failed to pay maintenance on a regular basis to support his son, was selected as the MAD OAT Mad of the week due to the disregard it displayed for the child’s privacy and dignity.
The article indirectly identified the child by naming his mother who made the claims to the paper. “She says he sends only the odd R500 now and again,” the article stated.
The mother has reportedly taken the matter to the family court; therefore, by indirectly identifying the child, the article contravened Section 36 of the Maintenance Act 99 of 98 which states:
“No person shall publish in any manner whatsoever the name or address of any person under the age of 18 years who is or was involved in any proceedings at a maintenance enquiry or the name of his or her school or any other information likely to reveal the identity of that person.”
In addition, directly or indirectly identifying children caught in the middle of maintenance disputes contravenes their right to privacy and dignity. This is because the disputes are often unpleasant and reveal intimate details of the antagonism between the parties involved, exposing the situation to people who may know them (the children) and their parents.
We anticipate more cautious reporting from Sunday World, mindful of how the interest of the child should always take priority over the public’s interest in the celebrity.