South Africa: “I gave up when they told me that I wouldn’t be able to write matric without an ID book”

Published: 15/Mar/2021
Source: GroundUp (Cape Town)

People who find themselves stateless in South Africa struggle to rectify their situation

By Marecia Damons

Zimbabwean-born Primrose Modisane has been living in South Africa for 20 years without an ID or birth certificate.

“It’s difficult because I can’t open a bank account. I can’t apply for any social grants. I can’t walk around freely without the fear of being arrested by police. If you’re sick you cannot go to the hospital because they will ask for an ID,” she says. (By law, hospitals have to treat undocumented people. – Editor)

“Statelessness is essentially an acute violation of the right to citizenship. A stateless person is a foreigner everywhere and a citizen nowhere. You are not recognised as a citizen in any country,” said Thandeka Chauke of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR).

The organisation, together with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHRA) briefed the Department of Home Affairs parliamentary portfolio committee about statelessness in South Africa on Tuesday.

LHR says people of mixed parentage, orphaned and abandoned infants, adults whose births have never been registered, and undocumented long-term migrants are most at risk of being stateless – someone who is not considered a national of any state.

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Themes: Acquisition by children, Birth Registration, ID Documents and Passports, Statelessness
Regions: South Africa
Year: 2021