The judgement was unanimous.
Back in 2017, the South African High Court ruled that it was illegal for parents or guardians to spank their children i.e. use corporal punishment in the home setting. The ruling arose after a father allegedly beat his 13-year-old son "in a manner that exceeded the bounds of reasonable chastisement". Today, the Constitutional Court has upheld the High Court's 2017 ruling and declared that the spanking of children is a violation of the constitution.
Groups such as the Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) have, in the past, fought to have the High Court's ruling set aside citing that there is a "clear distinction between such chastisement and abuse and parents should be allowed to apply "reasonable" and "moderate" chastisement on their children."
The Constitutional Court's ruling, which was drafted by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, has come during a time where gender-based violence and violence towards children has experienced an alarming surge in the past weeks. What the ruling itself means is that parents or guardians who are accused of assault after spanking their children, can no longer invoke the common law defense of reasonable chastisement. The ruling further paves the way for the development of actual laws criminalizing the act of spanking.
Children's rights activists and groups as well as organisations such as the University of Pretoria's Center for Child Law have welcomed the ruling.