Divert from divorcing with the JRC

Left to right: Reverend Harry Heydon, Pastor Esther Heydon, Pastor Paul Hattingh, Pastor Linda Patterson and Lorraine and Errol Goetsch. Photo submitted.

His own tough divorce, child custody and maintenance battles have led Errol Goetsch to co-founding the Justice and Reconciliation Centre (JRC).

The JRC works to steer residents away from desperately utilising litigation, was founded by Errol and second wife Lorraine Goetsch and follows a tough divorce battle that Errol was involved in. Founded this year, the JRC’s goals are to help families and courts comply with the new Children’s Act 38 of 2005 (amended in July 2007 and April 2010), to stop domestic violence turning into divorce, to mediate child maintenance problems and stop crime, to reconcile victims and offenders and to divert cases via mediation and arbitration, aiming for out-of-court settlements. The registered NPO is deeply rooted in Christianity.

“Four out of five marriages today end in divorce,” Errol said.

“The system and the courts failed my family again and again, and my partner and I could not mediate our issues, turning my life into a drama worthy of a television series,” Errol told the record recently.

Errol’s history inspired him and he hopes that it will inspire other residents that currently experience deep issues within their marriages, are heading for divorce or are in the process of deciding what will happen to the children.

“A divorce is toughest on the family, on the children,” Errol started his story adding that, “the process actually aggravates the family situation and is usually in the interest of both partners’ representatives.”

During his own divorce drama Errol and his family suffered through three protection orders, six police stations, six peace orders, Errol’s eight warrants of arrest and two arrests, eight courts, 10 magistrates, 18 lawyers, 26 policemen, 27 social workers, 48 court appearances and up to five cases at a time being heard in children’s, criminal, debtors’, domestic violence, divorce and maintenance courts.

“There is hope in the Children’s Act, it actually means to step in and protect the children,” Errol told the record.

This is the basis of his NPO. The JRC is currently implementing a trial programme for mediation. Their main goal to grow the NPO is to partner with the Departments of Justice and Social Development. It is a voluntary association and has established partners in the Honeydew area that asssist in the trial programme.

Errol explained the trial programme.

“First and foremost, those that intend to mediate through us are to be sent on the OTC (previously Overcomers Through Christ) Healing Weekend in Honeydew, headed by Pastor Linda Patterson,” he said.

After assessing the partners’ needs and stage in reconciliation, the Goetschs utilise partners Reverend Harry and Pastor Esther Heydon (of Peniel Mustard Seed Foundation) and Pastor Paul Hattingh (of New Beginnings Discipleship Ministries) to offer a further emotional healing package, called the Go’el Recovery Kit, and the OTC Settlement Course.

For more information contact Errol Goetsch on 078 573 5046 or via email at [email protected] .


The Children’s Act 38 of 2005 and its role in JRC

The Goetschs are of the opinion that the Act is a powerful force for good and have thus based their mediation process largely on this law.

“Currently it is too slow in taking effect in South Africa,” Errol told the record.

“Lawyers resist it and conceal it from clients because it will hazard their income, and social workers and magistrates unfortunately do not know it well enough or apply it.”

Errol hopes that the JRC can train the public and courts in knowing and applying the law, choosing mediation to protect children from hostile divorces as well as domestic violence, custory and maintenance battles.

The two most powerful clauses in the Act, according to Errol, is that 1) in any matter concerning a child an approach which is conductive to conciliation and problem-solving is to be adopted and 2) that the best interests of the affected child is paramount.

“This law is binding, it is just not understood or applied,” he said.


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Mathilde Myburgh

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