Pay channel’s Moja Love, available on DStv channel 157, has captured the attention of viewers for most of the year with an out-of-the-box reality show that confronts alleged deadbeat fathers for neglecting their children, using cameras that pop out when least expected.
However, it has since appeared, through expert opinion from legal minds, that the show, No Excuse: Pay Papgeld, could be illegal.
Following a couple of weeks of ground work, it appears the production house, 3rd Strand Media, and the broadcaster, Siyaya TV, could be vulnerable to legal implications as the law prohibits mentioning children’s names or revealing of their identities on public platforms in paternity or maintenance disputes.
The production company has refused to comment for two weeks.
In a recorded phone call a woman, who identified herself as researcher Lerato Nkosi, said we “could make the enquiry” and then dropped the call on this reporter.
Subsequent calls and emails were not answered. On Wednesday, in another recorded phone call that was emailed to the production company, a man answered, confirming it had received the email, but asked for it to be sent again. He dropped the line when asked to identify himself.
Lawyer Zola Majavu of Majavu Inc said No Excuse: Pay Papgeld violated the rights of children whose parents featured on the show.
“If there are going to be allegations publicised of whether the child is maintained the way Moja Love does, it could be violating the law.
“If you reveal the identity of the mother or father, you are already revealing the identity of the child before we even get the discussion around consent from the adults.
“The law says the best interests of the child are supreme,” said Majavu.
The advocate said that when he first became aware of the show, he tried phoning to warn the production house about the legalities of the content but couldn’t reach it.
The show is an “invasion of privacy of the worst kind” said legal eagle Bulelani Mzamo of Mzamo Attorneys.
Mzamo, who rose to prominence when he represented the axed soapie actors known as the “Generations 16” when they took on their former bosses, labelled No excuse: Pay Papgeld as “illegal and morally reprehensible”.
He said revealing alleged deadbeat fathers did not constitute overriding public interest as they were not public figures.
“It is my prima facie view that the filming and broadcasting of that show is illegal and it should not be continued” he said.
“It does not matter whether the adults, among themselves, have indemnity disclaimers. The child’s interests cannot be trodden on.”
He said the undertakings that were done on the show were not enforceable as they had not been tested in a properly constituted forum.
“If this show is broadcast in the manner that is explained, it treads on the rights of the fathers to privacy and the minor children’s rights to be protected from any form of publication if they are the subject matter of a legal dispute.
“In terms of the Criminal Procedure Act, it has been declared that it is unlawful to publish the identity of a child who is either a witness, a victim or even a perpetrator of a crime.
“It does not end with the Criminal Procedure Act, it falls under the Children’s Act, which specifically prohibits the publication of any information relating to the proceedings of the Children’s Court that reveals or may reveal the name or the identity of a child who is a party in the proceedings.”
By revealing the identity of the parents, according to the law, the child’s identity is lineally revealed as it would be indicative of who the child is to society.
MultiChoice’s corporate communications manager, Kenneth Nxumalo, said DStv refused to comment and referred all questions to Moja Love.
“Your first stop is to go to Moja Love and get comment from them. Get hold of them and they should be able to help you,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of Moja Love and Siyaya TV, Zach Talla, business development manager for both, said: “The official comment is that we do not want to comment on it.”
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