The Department of Home Affairs will start registering births from 1 May when the country enters a level 4 lockdown, so as to avoid a backlog of birth certificates.
Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi, his deputy, Njabulo Nzuza, and department officials on Tuesday had a virtual meeting with Parliament's portfolio committee on home affairs and the standing committee on security and justice.
In his presentation, Nzuza said the department decided to render the following three critical services: death registrations, temporary identity certificates and the re-issue of birth certificates.
From 27 March to 24 April, 2020, the department issued 31 585 death certificates, 4 731 re-issued birth certificates and 9 101 temporary identification certificates.
"The Births and Deaths Act requires that births should be registered within 30 days from date of birth. Ordinarily, any child registered after 30 days is considered as Late Registration of Births (LRB)," reads the presentation.
"However, children born during the lockdown period will not follow the LRB process. They will be considered as if they are within 30 working days.
"In addition, children born from 26 February, 2020, but could not have been registered due to lockdown, and have missed birth registration within 30 days, will not follow the LRB process as well."
The department is anticipating a high demand for birth certificates to take advantage of social relief efforts announced last week by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The department also said it will put the following measures in place to mitigate against the spread of the coronavirus:
- Staff will work for eight hours, as opposed to the four-hour service of the lockdown thus far;
- Floor managers will ensure that social distancing is adhered to as per regulations;
- All staff members shall be provided with personal protective equipment (PPEs);
- Queues will be separated according to services;
- Communication through the multi-media channels will assist in bringing the clients to offices for immediate registration;
- A full register of everybody - including names, residential address and contact details – who visits the office must be kept at all times; and
- A third of the usual workforce will be deployed.
Motsoaledi also addressed the matter of the refugees at Green Market Square, which is a hot potato between the national government and the City of Cape Town.
He said there are no legal provisions within the Constitution and the laws for refugee camps within South Africa, so the department is not empowered to provide accommodation, shelter and sustenance to any refugees or any person in South Africa – these are to be provided by authorities in the areas where people reside.
He said he was in contact with the ambassadors of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where about 80% of the refugees and asylum seekers come from, Burundi and Ethiopia, and they had offered their help to repatriate those who want to return.