Proof of birth probed

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April 11, 2017
Proof of birth probed

TASK: Priscilla Jana

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is to investigate why children born in South Africa to foreign parents are not automatically awarded citizenship by the Department of Home Affairs.

Advocate Priscilla Jana, deputy chairperson of the SAHRC, said she had been unaware that unabridged birth certificates were not issued to such children.

“We will look into this matter,” she told the Cape Argus.

Department of Home Affairs spokesperson, Thabo Mokgola, said the department’s policy was that “for record purposes, a notice of birth” would be issued instead.

Cape Town attorney Joy van der Heyde said she had filed nine notices against Home Affairs in the Western Cape High Court for allegedly refusing to issue unabridged birth certificates to foreign parents.

She said the assumption that a child born to foreigners in South Africa automatically gets citizenship is false.

“A notice of birth is issued by the hospital. This is not an identity document on which the child can be registered at school or obtain social grants,” she said.

Mokgola said in cases where one parent is South African, that parent may apply for the child’s birth certificate.

But Van der Heyde said that was problematic as the foreign parent’s name would not be reflected on the unabridged birth certificate.

Esther Lewis, spokesperson for the Western Cape Department of Social Development, said they assist all children in need of care and protection.

“It is standard practice to issue foreign children born in South Africa with handwritten birth certificates from the Department of Home Affairs.”

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