Heartache for un­reg­is­tered

● Par­ents file class ac­tion against home af­fairs for birth cer­tifi­cates

The Herald (South Africa) - - News - Estelle El­lis el­[email protected]­soblack­star.co.za

Haunted by the knowl­edge that their chil­dren’s fu­tures are slip­ping away by the day as home af­fairs of­fi­cials refuse to is­sue them with birth cer­tifi­cates, a group of South African par­ents have filed a class ac­tion against the depart­ment.

The main aim of the le­gal ac­tion is to stop of­fi­cials from de­mand­ing DNA tests, which cost thou­sands of rands, be­fore chil­dren are is­sued with a birth cer­tifi­cate.

The af­fected par­ents all live in the Ali­wal North and Sterk­spruit ar­eas.

The lead coun­sel in the mat­ter, Lilla Crouse SC, said what she had seen while pre­par­ing for the case broke her heart.

“It was the poverty and hope­less­ness of the par­ents and them know­ing that this will con­tinue, with­out an ed­u­ca­tion for the chil­dren,” she said.

Ac­cord­ing to pa­pers filed at the Gra­ham­stown High Court, the par­ents want the depart­ment to stop de­mand­ing DNA tests as a req­ui­site for some birth cer­tifi­cates un­less the gov­ern­ment car­ries the cost.

They also want of­fi­cials to be com­pelled to ac­cept an af­fi­davit as proof of parent­age and to stop re­fus­ing birth reg­is­tra­tions in cases where one par­ent is an il­le­gal im­mi­grant or un­doc­u­mented.

Chil­dren with­out birth cer­tifi­cates are turned away by schools as no pro­vi­sion is made for them.

The first ap­pli­cant in the mat­ter, SA cit­i­zen Andile Nyang­intsimbe, 32, said the mother of his three chil­dren was from Le­sotho but was le­gally in SA.

Their two el­dest chil­dren, born in 2004 and 2005, were reg­is­tered by the depart­ment, but of­fi­cials re­fused to regis­ter the third and youngest child.

Nyang­intsimbe, who runs a spaza shop, said he had to en­rol his son, born in 2011, in a pri­vate school as the state schools had turned him away.

“We were told by of­fi­cials at the Sterk­spruit home af­fairs of­fice that we must go to East Lon­don and get a DNA test to prove he is my son,” he said.

“I am 100% con­vinced I am his bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther.”

Maser­ame Makoloane, 38, has four chil­dren be­tween the ages of seven and 16, none of whom is reg­is­tered as their fa­ther has dis­ap­peared.

The depart­ment wants her to find him be­fore is­su­ing the chil­dren with birth cer­tifi­cates.

“None of them has re­ceived for­mal school­ing,” she said.

“I was first told to bring an af­fi­davit ex­plain­ing the sit­u­a­tion, but an­other of­fi­cial at home af­fairs wasn’t sat­is­fied.

“Each time I go, there is a dif­fer­ent of­fi­cial who has dif­fer­ent re­quire­ments.”

Makoloane said home af­fairs now wanted her to find the chil­dren’s miss­ing fa­ther to get his DNA. “We can’t ac­cess grants ei­ther. Life is hard.”

A 17-year-old girl in Ali­wal North said her mother died in 2010 and she had then gone to live with her grand­mother.

“My fa­ther does not want me to know what his sur­name is be­cause he is afraid I will sue him for main­te­nance,” she said.

“My grand­mother was un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol most of the time so she gave the wrong date of birth when my birth cer­tifi­cate had to be reis­sued.

“At home af­fairs, they said it was her fault and she had to pay to have it cor­rected.

“But she only had R20 of my grant money and noth­ing else.

“The depart­ment then wanted a copy of my mother’s ID book. She never had one.

“Then they wanted a death cer­tifi­cate. We did not have one ei­ther.”

She said her own daugh­ter had been born in 2017 but re­mained un­doc­u­mented as the depart­ment now wanted a copy of her ID doc­u­ment – which it is re­fus­ing to is­sue.

An­thony Kam­bula , 58, said two of his chil­dren were doc­u­mented, but home af­fairs re­fused to regis­ter the third with­out a DNA test.

He said they had paid R2,100 for a DNA test in Novem­ber but were shocked to hear they would likely only have the re­sults in March, which meant their son would miss the first term of school.

Zwelethu Phon­gomile, 36, has not been able to regis­ter any of his chil­dren be­cause their mother is un­doc­u­mented.

“There is no fu­ture for them if they are not ed­u­cated.”

In 2017, the Gra­ham­stown High Court or­dered a blan­ket ban on birth reg­is­tra­tions by par­ents who did not meet the depart­ment’s re­quire­ments and sent the reg­u­la­tions back to par­lia­ment to be fixed.

Home af­fairs spokesper­son David Hla­bane did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment, but lawyers for the depart­ment filed pa­pers in­di­cat­ing they would op­pose the ac­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.