2013 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor
In 2013, South Africa made a significant advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government amended the Basic Conditions of Employment Act to include protections for children working without a contract; approved the third phase of the National Child Labor Action Program; and established guidelines for acceptable household chores. In addition, the Government approved the 2013 Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act, which is a comprehensive national anti-trafficking law that includes specific provisions for child trafficking; but the Act has yet to be promulgated and take effect. The Government also trained labor inspectors on child labor issues and maintained programs that assist vulnerable children, including no-fee schools and school feeding programs. Studies also indicate that the Government's Child Support Grant and the Old Age Pension may help reduce child labor. However, children in South Africa continue to engage in child labor in agriculture and domestic service. In addition, Government social programs to address child labor do not match the scope of the problem. Some families are required to pay local school fees, and all families must pay for books, uniforms, and other school-related expenses, which may affect children's access to education. Also, the Government does not publish comprehensive results of child labor enforcement efforts.
Children in South Africa are engaged in child labor, including in agriculture and domestic service.(1-5) Table 1 provides key indicators on children's work and education in South Africa. Data on some of these indicators are not available from the sources used in this report.
|Working children, ages 7 to 14:||Unavailable|
|School attendance, ages 5 to 14 (%):||Unavailable|
|Children combining work and school, ages 7 to 14 (%):||Unavailable|
|Primary completion rate (%):||98.5|
Based on a review of available information, Table 2 provides an overview of children's work by sector and activity.
|Agriculture||Harvesting sugarcane,* mango,* lychee,* bananas,* grapes,* citrus,* and other fruits* (1, 2, 4)|
|Forestry,* activities unknown (1)|
|Services||Domestic work (1, 2, 5)|
|Food service, activities unknown (2, 8, 9)|
|Production and selling of liquor*† (1)|
|Street work, including vending and begging (2, 3, 5, 8, 9)|
|Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡||Use of children in illicit activities, including drug trafficking, home burglaries, and gang-related activity (5, 10)|
|Commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking (2, 5, 8-11) Domestic service, farming, food service, street vending, and begging, as a result of human trafficking (2, 5, 8-11)|
*Evidence of this activity is limited and/or the extent of the problem is unknown.
†Determined by national law or regulation as hazardous and, as such, relevant to Article 3(d) of ILO C. 182.
‡Child labor understood as the worst forms of child labor per se under Article 3(a) - (c) of ILO C. 182.
Children in South Africa are trafficked from rural areas to urban areas, including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and Bloemfontein.(9) South African girls are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and domestic service.(9) South African boys are trafficked internally for farm work, food service, begging, and street vending.(8, 9) Reports indicate that orphaned children in South Africa are especially vulnerable to trafficking.(5)
The Government reports that South African girls are more likely than boys to be involved in child labor.(12) However, the Government does not collect comprehensive data on the number of children engaged in the worst forms of child labor.(2, 5, 13, 14) Although birth certificates are required to qualify for services, including education, more than 20 percent of babies are not registered by their first birthday.(2, 15)
South Africa has ratified all key international conventions concerning child labor (Table 3).
|ILO C. 138, Minimum Age||✅|
|ILO C. 182, Worst Forms of Child Labor||✅|
|UN CRC Optional Protocol on Armed Conflict||✅|
|UN CRC Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography||✅|
|Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons||✅|
The Government has established relevant laws and regulations related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 4).
|Minimum Age for Work||Yes||15||Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 (16)|
|Minimum Age for Hazardous Work||Yes||18||Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997; Regulations on Hazardous Work by Children in South Africa (16-18)|
|List of Hazardous Occupations Prohibited for Children||Yes||Regulations on Hazardous Work by Children in South Africa (17, 18)|
|Prohibition of Forced Labor||Yes||Chapter 2 of the Constitution; Children's Amendment Act (19, 20)|
|Prohibition of Child Trafficking||Yes||Children's Amendment Act; Criminal Law Amendment Act 32 of 2007 (10, 19, 21)|
|Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children||Yes||Children's Amendment Act (19, 21)|
|Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities||Yes||Children's Amendment Act; Child Justice Act of 2008 (1, 19, 21, 22)|
|Minimum Age for Compulsory Military Recruitment||N/A*|
|Minimum Age for Voluntary Military Service||Yes||18||Defense Act 42 of 2002 (23, 24)|
|Compulsory Education Age||Yes||15||1996 South African Schools Act (2, 25, 26)|
|Free Public Education||Yes||1996 South African Schools Act (2, 25, 26)|
*No conscription or no standing military.
In 2013, the Government amended the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) to cover all forms of work. Previously, the BCEA only covered formal employment relationships.(1, 27) This change will provide protection to children working without a contract.(1, 27) The Government also established guidelines for acceptable household chores.(1, 28) In 2013, the Government approved the 2013 Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act (PCTPA), which is a comprehensive national anti-trafficking law that includes specific provisions for child trafficking, but the Act has yet to be promulgated and take effect.(1, 5, 29) In June 2013, the Government ratified the ILO Domestic Workers Convention Number 189. Following ratification, the Convention awaits implementation in South Africa.(30)
Although access to free education is mandated by law, school fees vary depending on the municipality and region.(1) The Government implements a no-fee school program that covers the poorest primary schools.(1, 31, 32) According to the Government, 81 percent of schools are "no fee."(1, 31, 32) The Government also provides some fee waivers to children receiving government grants.(15, 26, 33) The Government provides books, but all families must pay for stationery, uniforms, and other school-related expenses, which may affect children's access to education.(8, 26, 33, 34)
The Government has established institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of laws and regulations on child labor, including its worst forms (Table 5).
|South African Department of Labor (SADOL)||Enforce child labor laws.(1, 35) Inspectors identify suspected cases of child labor and human trafficking and forward evidence to South African Police Service (SAPS) officials, who investigate and forward cases to the South African Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (SADOJ) for prosecution.(8, 11) Coordinate a report entitled "State of Child Labor in South Africa."(34)|
|Department of Social Development (DSD)||Provide child protection and social services to vulnerable children, including victims of trafficking.(2, 9)|
|South African Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (SADOJ)||Enforce criminal laws, including child labor laws.(1, 35)|
|National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)||Prosecute criminal cases, including human trafficking cases.(1)|
|South African Police Service's (SAPS) Human Trafficking Desk||Monitor and evaluate efforts to investigate trafficking crimes, train human trafficking investigators, and refer human trafficking cases to provincial SAPS units.(1)|
|Labor Centers||Serve as field offices for inspectors to investigate child labor violations. Operated by Child Labor Intersectoral Support Groups (CLIGs). (1, 34)|
Law enforcement agencies in South Africa took actions to combat child labor, including its worst forms.
Labor Law Enforcement
In 2013, South African Department of Labor (SADOL) employed 1,542 labor inspectors and conducted over 101,792 routine inspections to protect vulnerable workers, including child laborers. The compliance level for these inspections was 54 percent.(1) A limited number of sources indicate that labor inspectors do not inspect farms without an invitation due to concerns of entering private property and concern over safety, which may leave children working in agriculture unprotected.(1, 34) SADOL does not have a central unit responsible for delivering training programs for labor inspectors.(1) However, SADOL trained labor inspectors on child labor issues in 2013.(1) The Government allocated over $40 million to SADOL for inspection and enforcement service during the year.(1) In the beginning months of 2013, SADOL publicized a number of child labor cases through a press release to highlight the severity of child labor-related offenses.(36) However, the Government does not make complete statistics publicly available on the number of child labor investigations opened, closed or resolved, or the number of citations and convictions made.(1) Depending on the type of offense, child labor violations are tried in either a criminal or labor court.(11)
When cases involve foreign nationals, inspectors send the cases to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) before the cases are taken on by the South African Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (SADOJ). Inspectors also refer these cases to social workers to determine if a child worker is in need of care or protection.(1, 37) However, a shortage of social workers may delay this practice. The Department of Social Development (DSD) has acknowledged the shortage of social workers and is working to address the need for more social workers by offering scholarships to students interested in pursuing that field of study.(34,37)
Criminal Law Enforcement
In 2013, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) trained 150 prosecutors and 60 additional staff on the new trafficking law. During the reporting period, the Government supported the IOM's training of 950 officials on trafficking issues, including legal frameworks, agency roles, and identification criteria.(5) In 2013, the Government had five ongoing cases involving child trafficking. Also, during the reporting period, the Government convicted one child trafficker.(5) However, the Government does not publish comprehensive data on human trafficking cases, prosecutions, or convictions. In addition, investigators lack sufficient training on how to identify human trafficking situations.(10)
The Government has established mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor, including its worst forms (Table 6).
|Coordinating Body||Role & Description|
|Implementation Committee on Child Labor (ICCL)||Monitors and supports advocacy and awareness raising; mainstreaming of child labor into government policies; and the implementation of child labor programs, legislation, and enforcement.(1, 35, 38, 39) Chaired by SADOL; members include representatives from commercial agriculture, trade unions, government agencies, and SAPS.(1) Includes provincial level child labor coordinating structures that fully participate in the Committee's efforts.(4, 38).|
|Child Labor Intersectoral Support Groups (CLIGs)||Aims to prevent child labor, including in scavenging and trafficking. Established by SADOL, members include multiple Government agencies and are managed by child labor coordinators in each province.(1, 34)|
|Trafficking in Persons Task Team (TPT)||Coordinates the Government's anti-trafficking efforts. Led by the NPA's Sexual Offenses and Community Affairs Unit and SADOJ's Victim Support Directorate, members include SADOL, DSD, and DHA, as well as other representatives of national law enforcement.(1, 5)|
In 2013, ICCL met on a bimonthly basis, and members submitted progress reports on efforts to implement the country's national strategy to eliminate child labor to the executive branch.(1) During the reporting period, members of TPT took lead roles in coordinating agency efforts to comply with the new Trafficking Law.(5)
The Government of South Africa has established policies related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 7).
|National Child Labor Action Program for South Africa, Phase III (CLPA)†||Serves as the primary policy instrument to prevent and eliminate child labor in South Africa.(11, 26) Calls for activities across the Government and the promotion of new laws against the worst forms of child labor.(1, 11, 26) Also includes a list of indicators to monitor the Government's efforts against child labor.(26)|
|South African Education Action Plan to 2014*||Serves as the first phase of a comprehensive national education plan through 2025. Focuses on addressing 27 education goals, including ensuring that all students stay enrolled in school through age 15.(40)|
|National Development Plan 2030*||Provides a comprehensive development plan for South Africa, including economic development, education, and social protection.(41)|
*The impact of this policy on child labor does not appear to have been studied.
†Policy was launched during the reporting period.
During the reporting period, SADOJ began drafting a new anti-trafficking National Action Plan.(5)
In 2013, the Government of South Africa funded and participated in programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including its worst forms (Table 8).
Table 8. Social Programs to Address Child Labor
|Child Support Grant‡||Government program that provides monthly direct cash transfer to primary caregivers vulnerable children.(1, 2, 15, 34, 38, 42, 43) Helps alleviate economic pressures and lower the cost of raising a child.(1, 2, 11, 15, 38, 42, 43) Reaches more than 10 million children.(34) Sources have indicated that as a result of the Child Support Grant, recipients may be less likely to send their children away for child labor and are more likely to have positive educational outcomes.(1, 2, 34, 44)|
|Old Age Pension‡||Government program that provides cash transfers to eligible adults over age 60. Assessments of the Pension's impact indicate that children's school attendance and completion increase and child labor decreases in rural households with male pension recipients, especially for boys in households with male recipients.(1, 43, 45) Studies also indicate a decrease in the total hours worked by children, especially among girls.(1, 43, 45)|
|Care Dependency Grants and Foster Care Grants*‡||Government program that helps families and children, including those vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor, by encouraging children to remain in school and not enter the labor market.(1)|
|Social Service Program*‡||DSD program that administers social services to vulnerable individuals, including child laborers, based on referrals from social workers.(1, 14, 15, 37)|
|National School Nutrition Program*‡||Government program that provides school meals to vulnerable children.(33, 34, 46)|
|Hotline‡||Government program that funds an NGO-operated hotline, which refers child labor complaints to government protection agencies or the SAPS.(1)|
|Shelters and Care Centers*‡||DSD program that funds 13 shelters and oversees 17 NGO-operated care centers for victims of abuse and trafficking, including children.(5, 9, 10)|
|Awareness Raising Campaigns‡||Government program that conducts anti-trafficking awareness campaigns. In 2013, the Government conducted 22 trainings to more than 1,700 students.(5)|
|Global Action Program on Child Labor Issues Project||USDOL-funded project implemented by the ILO in approximately 40 countries to support the priorities of the Roadmap for Achieving the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor by 2016 established by the Hague Global Child Labor Conference in 2010. Aims to improve the evidence base on child labor through data collection and research.(47)|
*The impact of this program on child labor does not appear to have been studied.
‡Program is funded by the Government of South Africa.
The Government has identified constraints on its capacity to offer social protection for children. For example, the child protection system still lacks the skilled staff to assist the majority of children who need care.(15, 37) Although South Africa has programs that target child labor, the scope of these programs is insufficient, including in agriculture and domestic work.(1, 2) In addition, it is unknown how many complaints related to child labor were made to the Government's hotline.
Based on the reporting above, suggested actions are identified that would advance the elimination of child labor, including its worst forms, in South Africa (Table 9).
|Area||Suggested Action||Year(s) Suggested|
|Laws||Promulgate the 2013 Trafficking in Persons Bill.||2013|
|Enforcement||Establish and enforce appropriate procedures to protect the safety of labor inspectors and allow for and facilitate labor inspections in all regulated areas, including on farms.||2009 - 2013|
|Publicly report the number of child labor cases and child trafficking cases opened, closed, and resolved, and the number of convictions or penalties assessed.||2009 - 2013|
|Provide sufficient training and systems for law enforcement personnel to identify the worst forms of child labor, including human trafficking cases.||2009 - 2013|
|Increase the number of social workers to ensure protections against hazardous work for children of legal working age.||2011 - 2013|
|Government Policies||Assess the impact that existing policies may have on addressing child labor.||2013|
|Social Programs||Conduct research to determine the activities carried out by children working in forestry to inform policies and programs.||2013|
|Collect systematic data on the number of child laborers and on the worst forms of child labor.||2010 - 2013|
|Implement programs to ensure that all children have birth certificates.||2010 - 2013|
|Ensure that education is freely available and accessible to all children.||2009 - 2013|
|Assess the impact that existing social programs may have on addressing child labor.||2013|
|Dedicate sufficient resources to better ensure support to children in the social protection system.||2011 - 2013|
|Institute programs to address the worst forms of child labor in agriculture and domestic work.||2010 - 2013|
|Disaggregate the number of complaints made to the Government's hotline that relate to child labor.||2013|
3. Rother, H. "Falling through the Regulatory Cracks: Street selling of Pesticides and Poisoning among Urban Youth in South Africa." International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 16(no. 2)(2010); http://worldcat.org [source on file].
6. UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary. Total. [accessed February 10, 2014]; http://www.uis.unesco.org/Pages/default.aspx?SPSLanguage=EN . Data provided is the gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary school. This measure is a proxy measure for primary completion. For more information, please see the "Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions" section of this report.
7. UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. Analysis received February 13, 2014. Reliable statistical data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms. As a result, statistics on children's work in general are reported in this chart, which may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on sources used, the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the "Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions" section of this report.
10. Government of South Africa. Tsireledzani: Understanding the Dimensions of Human Trafficking in Southern Africa. Pretoria; March 2010. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@ed_norm/@declaration/documents/publication/wcms_142882.pdf.
14. Gaura, D. World Day Against Child Labour: South Africa's forgotten children. Johannesburg, Gender Links; June 9, 2011. http://www.genderlinks.org.za/article/world-day-against-child-labour-south-africas-forgotten-children-2011-06-09.
17. Department of Labour. Regulations on Hazardous Work By Children. Pretoria; n.d. https:// www.labour.gov.za/downloads/documents/useful-documents/basic-conditions-of-employment/childlabourooklet2012.pdf.
18. Government of South Africa. Basic Conditions of Employment Act (75 of 1997): Regulations on Hazardous Work by Children in South Africa, No. 32862, enacted January 15, 2010. http://www.polity.org.za/article/basic-conditions-of-employment-act-751997-regulations-on-hazardous-work-by-children-in-south-africa-gazette-no-32862-regulation-7-2010-01-28.
21. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) South Africa (ratification: 2000) Submitted: 2010; accessed October 26, 2012; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMMENT_ID:2309446.
24. Child Soldiers International. "Appendix II: Data Summary on Recruitment Ages of National Armies," in Louder Than Words: An Agenda for Action to End State Use of Child Soldiers. London; 2012; http://www.child-soldiers.org/user_uploads/pdf/appendix2datasummarytableonrecruitmentagesofnationalarmies9687452.pdf.
30. ILO. South Africa ratifies four international labour Conventions, [online] June, 2014 [cited March 19, 2014]; http://www.ilo.org/global/standards/information-resources-and-publications/news/WCMS_216613/lang--en/index.htm.
32. Minister of Social Development, Republic of South Africa. Speech by the Minister of Social Development, Ms. Bathabile Dlamini, at the Launch of the Food for All Campaign, Makgori Village- North West. Pretoria, Department of Social Development; December 22, 2011. http://www.dsd.gov.za/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=373&Itemid=106.
42. South African Social Security Agency, Department of Monitoring and Evaluation, Strategy and Business Development. Statistical Report on Social Grants, Report No. 39. Pretoria, SASSA; February 28, 2011.
43. Stephen Devereux, and Colette Solomon. "Can Social Protection Deliver Social Justice for Farmwomen in South Africa?," in Social Protection for Social Justice; April 13-15, 2011; Brighton, UK; http://www.ids.ac.uk/files/dmfile/DevereuxSolomon2011FarmwomenandsocialprotectioninSouthAfricaCSPconferencedraft.pdf.
45. Edmonds, E. "Child Labor and Schooling Responses to Anticipated Income in South Africa." Journal of Development Economics, 81(no. 2):386-414 (2006); http://www.dartmouth.edu/~eedmonds/index_files/Page465.htm [source on file].
Labor Rights in South Africa
Learn what we are doing to to protect the rights of workers