Professor Donrich Thaldar of UKZN’s School of Law served as an *amicus curiae in a landmark case heard recently in the Pretoria High Court involving a sperm donor seeking access to a five-year-old child he had helped conceive through artificial insemination.
The child was born to a lesbian couple.
The court heard that in parenthood and gamete donation, the general rule is that a gamete donor (with the exception of a spouse) does not acquire parental rights or responsibilities because of their genetic link to a donor-conceived child.
However, a gamete donor can, similar to any other person, potentially acquire parental rights and responsibilities towards a donor-conceived child in terms of the Children’s Act.
Thaldar told the court that legal certainty on the matter was required saying: ‘Nobody wants their family life to be threatened. It is easy to understand why parents who have used donor gametes, or who intend to use donor gametes, feel a sense of apprehension after reading media reports on this case – apprehension that their families might be in jeopardy.’
Two of Thaldar’s postgraduate students accompanied him to the court hearing after helping in research on the matter.
Said master’s degree candidate Ms Roasia Hazarilall: ‘It was a mind-boggling experience seeing all our hard work lead up to the court hearing. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the research team in such a pivotal case and look forward to the judgement.’
PhD student Mr Bonginkosi Shozi, said: ‘Both sides in the case were represented by brilliant senior counsel. I felt truly privileged to be a part of the landmark case.’
*An amicus curiae is someone who is not party to a case but assists a court by offering information, expertise or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case.
Words: Lungile Ngubelanga