Boy’s schooling in the balance

2015-12-21 10:03
Rhonda Arumugam with her son Cail holding a letter from the Department of Home Affairs.

Rhonda Arumugam with her son Cail holding a letter from the Department of Home Affairs. (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - A Northdale child’s education is hanging in the balance as his desperate mother tries frantically to legalise his South African citizenship.

With allegedly no progress being made by “slack” Department of Home Affairs managers, Greenhill Primary School pupil Cail Edward (11) may not be allowed to attend a South African school next year if he is not granted South African nationality by the start of the school year in January.

Cail’s mother, Rhonda Arumugam — a South African resident who moved to New Zealand where she gave birth to Cail — has been desperately trying since August to obtain the documents.

Now living in Northdale since her family’s return to South Africa in 2011, Arumugam said she was never made aware that she had to register her son’s citizenship, believing that he would instantly qualify.

The abrupt realisation came in August this year when, on order of the Department of Education, the school sent Arumugam a letter of exclusion.

“I pleaded Cail’s right to education and the school was lenient enough to let him complete the year on condition that I started the process of acquiring an unabridged birth certificate,” Arumugam said.

Cail, who will be in Grade 6 next year, passed his final exams with distinctions, but Arumugam is worried his success may be shortlived if he cannot register for school.

“I have repeatedly gone to the department and have spoken to managers via telephone and e-mail. My worry is that staff will go on leave during the festive season and the department will be even less effective in dealing with my matter,” Arumugam said.

Arumugam supplied The Witness with a string of e-mails between herself and department managers.

After being bounced from one manager to another, Arumugam threatened to report her ordeal to the media — a move that was met with a dismissive response by Home Affairs official Thamsanqa Luthuli, who allegedly said that he is not threatened by the media.

“It is part of my job to talk to them [the media] as there are numerous and mostly unfounded complaints clients report to the media and at the end of the day it become proved that the client exaggerated the matter for publicity,” Luthuli wrote.

“Hence I’m available to apologise,should the error be on the side of the Dept; as well as clarify matters, if the media was not provided with correct facts.”

Department spokesperson Thabo Mokgola said they are “looking at the matter”.

“The office manager from the Pietermaritzburg office will contact Ms Arumugum with a view to resolving the matter,” Mokgola said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  home affairs  |  school

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