International Parental Child Abduction

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Country Information

South Africa

South Africa
Republic of South Africa
Exercise increased caution in South Africa due to crime, civil unrest, and drought.

Exercise increased caution in South Africa due to crime, civil unrest, and drought.

Violent crime, such as armed robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, and "smash-and-grab" attacks on vehicles, is common. There is a higher risk of violent crime in the central business districts of major cities after dark.

Demonstrations, protests, and strikes occur frequently. These can develop quickly without prior notification, often interrupting traffic, transportation, and other services; such events have the potential to turn violent.

South Africa’s Western, Eastern, and Northern Cape Provinces are experiencing a severe drought. Water supplies in some areas may be affected. Residential water-use restrictions are in place in Cape Town and other municipalities. Please see links below for current information.

Please see our Alerts for up-to-date information.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to South Africa:

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Hague Convention Participation

Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes

What You Can Do

Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Pretoria
877 Pretorius Street, Arcadia
Pretoria 0083
South Africa

Telephone: +(27)(12) 431-4000 / 012-431-4000
Fax: +(27)(12) 431-5504 / 012-431-5504
The U.S. Embassy in Pretoria does not provide consular services to the public.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/USEmbassySA
Twitter: https://twitter.com/USEmbassySA

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Johannesburg
1 Sandton Drive (opposite Sandton City Mall)
Johannesburg 2196
South Africa
Telephone:+(27)(11) 290-3000 / 011-290-3000 (Monday – Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone:+(27) 79-111-1684 / 079-111-1684 
Fax: +(27)(11) 884-0396 / 011-884-0396 

consularjohannesburg@state.gov

 

U.S. Consulate General Cape Town
2 Reddam Avenue, West Lake 7945,
Cape Town, South Africa

Telephone: +(27)(21) 702-7300 / 021-702-7300 (from within South Africa)

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(27) 702-7300 / 021-702-7411(from within South Africa)

Fax: +(27)(21) 702-7493 / 021-702-7493 (from within South Africa)

U.S. Consulate General Durban
303 Dr. Pixley KaSeme Street (formerly West Street)
31st Floor Old Mutual Centre
Durban 4001
South Africa

Telephone: (+27)(31) 305-7600 / 031-305-7600 (from within South Africa)

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(27) 079-111-1445 / (031) 305-7600 or 079-111-1445 (from within South Africa)

Fax: (+27)(31) 305-7691 / 031-305-7691(from within South Africa)

General Information

South Africa and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Convention (Hague Abduction Convention) since November 1, 1997. 

For information concerning travel to South Africa including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for South Africa.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

 

Hague Abduction Convention

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention.  In this capacity, the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizen Services, Office of Children’s Issues, facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including South Africa.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor  
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Website


The South African Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Office of the Family Advocate.  The South African Central Authority (SACA) has an administrative role in processing Hague Abduction Convention applications. They forward completed Hague applications to the appropriate Family Advocate attached to the High Court in the jurisdiction where the defendant resides.  The Advocate informs the taking-parent of the petition and, if appropriate, seeks a voluntary return.  If the taking-parent does not agree to a return, the Advocate files the petition with the High Court.  The Children’s Act of 2010 requires SACA to appoint an attorney ad litem for the child/ren for Hague proceedings; you can find more information here

They can be reached at: 

Office of the Chief Family Advocate
Central Authority for the Republic of South Africa
Room 9.36 West Tower
Momentum City Walk
c/o Prinsloo & Pretorius Streets
Private Bag X81
PRETORIA 0001
Republic of South Africa
Telephone: 27 (12) 357 8022
Fax:  27 (12) 357 8043
e-mail : PeSeabi@justice.gov.za
Internet: Office of the Chief Family Advocate

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in South Africa, the left-behind parent or legal guardian must submit a Hague application and the original or certified supporting documents to the SACA.  The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the South African Central Authority, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes. 

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or the South African Central Authority.  Attorney fees, if necessary, are the responsibility of the applicant parent. Additional costs are the responsibility of the applicant parent, and may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, South Africa.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in South Africa.  The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

Retaining an Attorney

It is not necessary for a left-behind parent to retain a private attorney for Hague Abduction Convention proceedings. The Family Advocate will present an application on behalf of the left-behind parent to the South African court for the child’s return; the Advocate represents the petition, not the petitioner. A parent has the option of hiring a private attorney instead of using an appointed Family Advocate. The U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa posts lists of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law. 

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

Mediation

Mediation through the Office of the Family Advocate is available to families with a divorce case pending in the South African court system.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Last Updated: June 1, 2015

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Consulate General Johannesburg
1 Sandton Drive (opposite
Sandton City Mall)
Johannesburg 2196
South Africa
Telephone
+(27)(11) 290-3000 (from South Africa 011-290-3000)
Emergency
+(27) 702-7300 / 021-702-7411(from within South Africa)
Fax
+(27)(21) 702-7493 / 021-702-7493 (from within South Africa)

South Africa Map