Can an abandoned child get a birth certificate?

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"Home Affairs also says that you must be a South African citizen or permanent residence permit holder with a valid South African ID." Photo: Getty Images
"Home Affairs also says that you must be a South African citizen or permanent residence permit holder with a valid South African ID." Photo: Getty Images

The following question is part of Groundup's Answers to your questions series and comes from a reader who wants to know if an abandoned child can get a birth certificate from Home Affairs.

The short answer

Yes, but you may need help to get Home Affairs to comply.

Read: Does SASSA go against the Constitution by considering all marriages as in community of property for grant applications?

The whole question

Dear Athalie

My child's friend was abandoned by her mother - we do not know where she is. I am now looking after her, but she does not have any documents to apply for a birth certificate. She is 15 years old.

The long answer

All birth registration is regulated by the Births and Deaths Registration Act of 1992. Late birth registration is split into three categories:

1. After 30 days but before one year

2. After one year but before 15 years

3. After 15 years.

These are the documents that Home

Affairs says are needed to register a birth after 15 years:

Application for an ID (Form B1-9)

Completed Forms DHA-24, DHA-24/A x 2 and DHA-288 for the registration of birth

Supporting documentation and written reasons why the birth was not registered within 30 days of birth.

Also read: Can I change my surname without my parents' permission?

Home Affairs also says that you must be a South African citizen or permanent residence permit holder with a valid South African ID.

Under Level 3 lockdown regulations, which we are in again (June 2021), a person had to make an appointment with Home Affairs to apply for late birth registration, so this is probably the case now.

Even though Section 28 of our Constitution says that every child has the right to a name and nationality from birth, many undocumented children struggle to be issued a birth certificate by Home Affairs.

In 2018 Lawyers for Human Rights took Home Affairs to court to force them to issue a birth certificate to an abandoned child, which they had been refusing to do.

The Pretoria High Court ordered Home Affairs to issue a birth certificate to the child.

One of the problems with Home Affairs, though, is that officials are not always aware of court rulings and may not always comply with them. Because of Covid-19, Home Affairs has also got a significant backlog, and it may take even longer than usual.

If you have difficulties dealing with Home Affairs, the following organisations have had much experience with them and may be able to assist you:

Lawyers for Human Rights, Musina: 015 534 2203, Durban: 031 301 0531, Pretoria: 012 3202943, Johannesburg: 011 339 1960, Cape Town: 021 424 8561

Legal Resources Centre, info@lrc.org.za, Johannesburg: 011 836 9831, Cape Town: 021 481 3000.

The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, info@scalabrini.org.za, tel: 021 465 6433

Wishing you the best,

Athalie

Read the original GroundUp here. 

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