One man's fight for paternity leave

Hendri Terblanche has started a petition for 10 days paternity leave in SA.

FILE: Financial manager Hendri Terblanche has started a petition for 10 days’ paternity leave for SA fathers. Picture: Supplied

CAPE TOWN - A Cape Town father has drawn up a petition for 10 days' paternity leave to be provided for fathers in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

South African fathers may take three days 'family responsibility' leave a year, but there is no official provision for paternity leave.

Financial manager Hendri Terblanche took issue with this when his wife Giselle gave birth to twins, Danté and Juandré, three months prematurely in November.

Danté spent the first 139 days of his life in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) while his brother spent 79 days there.

Terblanche says, "It was quite sad in the ICU to see other fathers there for three days but then they had to go back to work."

After consulting the Constitution, Terblanche found 'any persons' could submit a petition to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and any Member of Parliament (MP) could present a petition to the National Assembly (NA).

Terblanche submitted his petition to NCOP chair Thandi Modise on 3 July.

LISTEN: 567 Cape Talk radio host Kieno Kammies speaks to Hendri Terblanche.

He first approached the Social Development Department, whom he says were not very forthcoming with information.

Terblanche then made a special petition to Modise and approached each and every MP, who in their capacity as members are able to draft legislation to be considered to amend the current act.

He says he has received very few responses.

"To think, out of 400 MPs, there were only a handful of people who took time out to respond."

He says, "I was in a very fortunate position that my employers were very accommodating but other fathers are not as fortunate."

At the same time, Terblanche says a lot of the credit for the petition should also go to Sonke Gender Justice, an African network that supports men and boys to promote equality between men and women.

He says fathers of today want to be involved with the childcare from day one.

"It's very important that we also make provision and assist fathers to be involved in the day-to-day care from the start."

Terblanche says he decided to take his fight forward in the interests of South African children.

"It's great for fathers to have the days off but it's even more important for children to get the best care possible for them."

He says this can only happen if both parents are involved at an early stage.

Meanwhile, members of the public have taken to Twitter to voice their opinion on Terblanche's attempt.

3 days of paternity leave (South African Law) is bloody ridiculous, & frankly, it mirrors the general sexist attitude in the country.

New Blog Post: Why dads deserve paternity leave

Cameroon- dads get 10 days paternity leave. Kenya- 14 days.Ghana - 5 days. Australia- 14 days. Sweden- 60days. UK parents share 12mths leave

Plus, for moms who have c-sections, bending/lifting etc is out of the question. Why wouldn't we want to encourage paternity leave to help?

I think paternity leave should happen for fathers so he can bond with the child and help the mother. Giving birth takes alot out of women.

@ItsJessiB There's no paternity leave in SA. 3 days family responsibility. I don't think there's anything TO abuse.