Citizenship court order to have ripple effect
DOORS will open for a desperate little boy born in Lesotho after the Grahamstown High Court ordered the Home Affairs Department to grant him South African citizenship.
Home Affairs refused to register little Xolani (not his real name) as a South African citizen despite the fact he has a South African father.
Xolani was born in Lesotho, where his mother is a citizen. The court ordered that neither the boy nor his family may be identified.
The case, which the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) in Grahamstown was instrumental in bringing, was brought not just on the boy’s behalf, but also on behalf of all parents or guardians in a similar position who have been unable to register the births of their children.
In a broad order, the court instructed that any child born outside South Africa but who had a South African parent, was a South African citizen by birth in terms of the Citizenship Act regardless of the citizenship of the other parent.
This means Xolani, who is now eight years old and finally a South African citizen, can access a subsidised education, healthcare as well as enjoy access to social assistance, such as a child-care grant in this country.
In another matter in which the LRC is involved, a Port Elizabeth school together with the Centre for Child Law (CCL) have challenged the Eastern Cape education department’s decision to stop funding school pupils who did not have an official South African identity number.
The LRC, which is acting for the CCL and Phakamisa High School, says an announcement was made in March last year that funding schools for everything from teacher salaries to the National School Nutrition Programme and textbooks would be based on pupil numbers.
And only pupils with a valid South African identity, passport and permit numbers captured on the SA Schools Administration and Management System would count.
The LRC will argue that, by withdrawing funding on this basis, the provincial department was violating the children’s constitutional right to basic education, dignity, equality, nutrition and non-discrimination.