The Social Development Department has urged parents with joint custody to prioritise the needs of the child during the 21-day COVID-19 national lockdown.
As the coronavirus outbreak spreads across the country, the department said it has been inundated with calls from parents who have joint custody of their children on where their children should stay during the lockdown.
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu in a statement urged parents and caregivers, including those with joint custody, to ensure the protection of children and that their actions and decisions are in the best interest of their children.
"We urge all parents/caregivers to remain vigilant and ensure that the protection of children is given utmost consideration at this time. The COVID-19 outbreak in South Africa presents a huge risk to children as it disrupts the normal child care arrangements for parents with joint custody," said the Minister.
She encouraged parents to make use of technology such as WhatsApp video call, Skype and FaceTime to make sure that children are in touch with both parents.
With the lockdown coming into full force at Thursday midnight, Zulu also advised parents and caregivers to monitor their online activities to prevent online abuse. She urged them to keep their children safe online while they are not at school and as they spend most of their time indoors.
The Minister encouraged parents/caregivers to use the lockdown period to build positive relationships with their children.
The Gender-Based Violence Command Centre will remain operational during the lockdown. Members of the public can report cases of child abuse, neglect and exploitation on the GBV Command Centre: 0800 428 428/ *120*7867# from any cell phone. Persons with disabilities, SMS "HELP" to 31531 and the Women Abuse Helpline is: 0800 150 150.