UKZN Hosts Family Mediation Conference
The latest developments in family mediation in South Africa were discussed at the recent Family Mediation Conference hosted by the College of Law and Management Studies Research Office in partnership with the Northwest University and the South African Association of Mediators (SAAM).
The Conference featured eminent speakers who presented papers around the theme: “New Mediation Developments in Family Law.”
In his welcome address, Northwest University’s Law academic, Professor Robbie Robinson, said the focus on family mediation was timely as major developments were currently taking place in the field.
‘This conference is a wake-up call for lawyers and academics to the reality that we are on the wrong track in our approach to family disputes and also by viewing law as being necessarily adversarial. Now is the time to look at mediation as a viable alternative because of its benefits,’ said Robinson.
The keynote address was delivered by Mr Justice Cassim Sardiwalla, a judge at the Land Claims Court and the Court Annexed Mediation Project at the Department of Justice.
Sardiwalla’s address titled: “Status and the Future of Court Annexed Mediation in the Courts”, highlighted the important role that mediation played in divorce cases as it is a conciliatory approach where parties are assisted to come to their own solution.
‘Recent trends indicate magistrates are referring matters for mediation and this shows that we already have a market for mediation. This saves the courts time and parties money by dealing with matters that do not belong in court.
‘Courts and children don’t gel. The most tragic thing that you witness as a presiding officer is to see a child being brought in front of you looking terrified and having to answer difficult questions instead of encouraging its parents who are going through a divorce to sit down in a room and talk openly about how to proceed – which is what mediation is,’ he said.
Presenters included SAAM’s Chairman, Mr Laurie Greyvenstien, who spoke on developments affecting family law and mediation opportunities in the light of amendments to the NCR regulations and the Maintenance Act; Mr Mark Collett, a registered social worker who practices as a full time mediator in Durban, who spoke on mediation and domestic violence, and University of Cape Town’s Customary Law expert, Professor Chuma Himonga, who delivered a presentation titled: “Mediation of Customary Marriage Disputed: The Road to Nowhere”.