South Africa: Home Affairs in court for ‘blocking’ identity documents

Published: 18/Sep/2023
Source: Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg)

By Tania Broughton

No ID, no life. This is the fate of many children in South Africa who are victims of their parent’s IDs being “blocked” by the Department of Home Affairs.

Their births are never registered or are registered very late; their parents cannot access child support and other grants; they are excluded from or discriminated against at school; they struggle to access health care and immunisation programmes. Without an identity number they are “invisible” to the state.

These are the submissions of the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town, represented by the Centre for Child Law, admitted as an amicus curiae in a case to be argued this week in the Pretoria High Court.

In the matter, Lawyers For Human Rights (LHR) is representing more than 100 people who have fallen victim to an “arbitrary” ID blocking practice by Home Affairs (DHA).

In December 2020, the Minister of Home Affairs revealed in Parliament that DHA was dealing with more than 800,000 blocked ID cases, involving alleged duplicates and what it claims are “fraudulent” IDs.

In September 2023, DHA admitted in its answering affidavit that ‘these cases have become more and more as the years went by”, and that in May 2023, the Minister had agreed to remove blocks from 1.4-million people’s IDs. However, approximately 700,000 IDs remained blocked at end of July 2023.

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Themes: Acquisition by children, Birth Registration, ID Documents and Passports
Regions: South Africa
Year: 2023