South Africa: Court orders home affairs to end a mother’s 12 year battle to register her son’s birth
Source: Lawyers for Human Rights (South Africa)
The Pretoria High Court made an order this week declaring a 12 year-old boy to be a South African citizen. The Department of Home Affairs had unlawfully refused to register Wandile’s* birth, despite his clear right to be recognised as a South African citizen. This refusal had left him effectively stateless.
Two unknown children had been registered under his mother’s name at Home Affairs. One child was born one month after Wandile and Home Affairs refused to register two children born within a month of each other. Despite her official complaints to remove the other children, Home Affairs has not investigated nor rectified the matter since 2007.
Wandile remained unregistered despite being a South African citizen by law. His school wouldn’t allow him to continue attending without a birth certificate so his mother was forced to send him to live in Kwa-Zulu Natal with his grandmother where a school would accept him. The LHR Statelessness Project intervened and brought an application in the High Court to recognise his right to citizenship and birth registration. Wandile can now return to Gauteng to live with his mother.
LHR is concerned that Home Affairs’ lack of effective service delivery and lack of response to queries is rendering children unnecessarily stateless. These cases illustrate the urgent need for an independent complaints body (an ombudsman) for the Department of Home Affairs. According to the South African Constitution, every child has the right to a name and a nationality from birth as well as the right to just administrative action and the right not to be deprived of citizenship. Home Affairs has a long way to go in realising these rights.