Call for Public Comment:
Draft Exemption from Administrative Penalty
for Certain ECD centres in the City of Cape Town


The City of Cape Town has recently released a Draft Exemption from the Administrative Penalty for Certain ECD Centres in the City – and there is now a call for public comment.


To provide context, an ECD centre needing to comply with municipal by-laws and become registered as a partial care facility is required to obtain land use and building plan approvals. Before an application for these approvals can be considered, if an ECD centre located in the City of Cape Town operates without the necessary land use in place or approved building plan, the centre must first apply for and pay an administrative penalty.

The Penalty

This penalty, which in our experience has ranged from R500 to R12,000, is a disincentive for ECD centres to become compliant and often penalises the centres attempting to operate legally as opposed to those who do not start the land use application process and so might never have to pay this penalty. The threat of this penalty can scare principals off. On the other hand, there are those ECD centres that do not know about this penalty and it comes as an unexpected expense to ECD centres trying to register and operate legally. Unfortunately, many ECD centres in Cape Town (and across South Africa) are not financially able to pay these penalty fees.

The City of Cape Town

The Centre for Early Childhood Development (CECD) has been engaging with the City of Cape Town and the Mayor’s office around local barriers to ECD centre registration, including this requirement to pay an administrative penalty. The City of Cape Town is now proposing that ECD centres in certain areas (as per the City’s suggested map of areas; see attached) operating without the necessary land use in place or having built a structure without approved building plans, will be exempt from having to pay an administrative penalty before seeking these approvals – this is a win for the ECD community!

The Deadline

This exemption has the potential to ease one of the registration barriers faced by ECD centres in impoverished areas within the City. We have an opportunity to comment on this draft exemption up until 15 May 2023.

Important Points:
  • The document with the proposed exemptions can be found here:
  • The map illustrating the areas that the City is proposing should be exempt from an administrative penalty can be found here:
  • The City of Cape Town’s webpage on this matter, with some additional information is here:
The Submission

We (CECD) support the proposed exemption for ECD centres, however, we strongly suggest changes be made to the legal wording of the exemption to (a) ensure that all ECD centres in the suggested areas are automatically exempt from paying administrative penalties for both illegal land use and building work, and (b) remove potential conflict of interpretation/application of this exemption that could nonetheless require these centres to pay administrative penalties. Moreover, there are many poor areas which we think should be included in the list of exempted areas for ECD centres, that are not included on the proposed map.

CECD’s submission was submitted on 12 May and can be found here:

How you can support this effort

CECD has worked with lawyers and researchers to draft comments on this proposed exemption. You can support CECD’s comments, by submitting an email here: If you submit via this link, please add in your own personal comments on how being exempt from admin penalties could affect ECD centres/what it means to you. You can write a line or two after the words, “Personal comments”.

If you would like to submit your own comments, please consider including CECD’s changes that we strongly suggest should be considered. You can submit your own comments online, via this link: Feedback ( or you can send your comments via email to

The Impact

If the current map of exempted areas is implemented, it would impact a total of 1,085 centres; 38,924 children and 4,708 staff members. If the additional areas that CECD would like to add to this map is also accepted, this would impact at least an additional 429 centres; 13,335 children; and 103 staff members.

As such we encourage you to please use this opportunity and give your comments to the City of Cape Town.

The number and content of the comments made on this exemption make a difference. This is a chance for us to have our voices heard. Let’s influence the process that affects us and change the law in a way that the rules and regulations support the ECD community.

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