Date updated: June 2020

What effect does a person’s status have?

  • Status refers to a person’s capacity to:
    • have rights and duties (“legal capacity”);
    • enter into contracts (“capacity to act”);
    • be held liable for crimes (“criminal liability”); and
    • sue or be sued (“capacity to litigate”).
  • A person’s capacity is limited by his/her domicile, age, or mental and physical ability.

What effect does a person’s age have?

  • A person has full, limited or no capacity, as explained in the table below:

Age

Capacity

Infants

0-7 years of age

  • No capacity.
  • A parent or guardian acts on behalf of an infant.

Minors

7-18 years of age

  • Limited capacity.
  • A minor can enter into contracts with the consent or assistance of his/her parent or guardian.
  • A minor does not need assistance from his/her parent or guardian for HIV testing, acquiring rights without duties (like receiving a donation), or access to information.

0-10 years of age

  • No criminal responsibility.

10-14 years of age

  • There is a presumption that there is no criminal responsibility unless proven otherwise.

14 years of age and above

  • Full criminal responsibility.
  • A minor can be a witness to a Will.

10 years of age and above

  • A minor must consent to his/her adoption.

12 years of age and above

  • A minor can receive medical treatment without the consent of his/her parent or guardian provided that the minor understands the advantages, risks and implications of the treatment.

12–15 years of age for girls

14–18 years of age for boys

  • A minor may get married with the consent of his/her parent or guardian and the Minister of Home Affairs.
  • A minor who gets married becomes a major, and maintains this status upon divorce.

16 years of age and above

  • A minor can make a Will without the assistance of his/her parent or legal guardian.
  • A minor can open a bank account.

Majority:

18 years of age and above

  • A person has full capacity, unless s/he is mentally ill, physically disabled or is a prodigal and cannot manage his/her affairs (a curator must be appointed); or is under the influence of alcohol and drugs (for example, the contract may be void as it was entered into while s/he could not control his/her actions).