The Children’s Institute (CI) at the University of Cape Town, represented by the Centre for Child Law (CCL), will on Wednesday 20 September and Thursday 21 September provide evidence as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) to the Pretoria High Court, that highlights the harsh consequences for children whose parents’ IDs have been “blocked” by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA).
Parents with blocked IDs are unable to register their children’s births or to help them get their own IDs. This leaves children undocumented for years, infringing on their rights to a name, nationality, and identity. The CI’s evidence shows that undocumented children face a significant risk of being excluded from receiving social grants and attending school, even when they are legally entitled to this. Consequently, DHA’s practice of blocking IDs also limits children’s basic socio-economic rights.
The CI is asking the court to protect the best interests of children by making an order that will provide systemic relief not only for the adults affected, but also the interests of the children who are impacted.
Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) is representing over 100 people in this court challenge. LHR’s court application asks the court to declare DHA’s conduct as unlawful and unconstitutional, and seeks an order to unblock the IDs. An ID is blocked when an ID number is flagged because it is tainted by an administrative error, or because of suspected fraud or misrepresentation. Affected people must then submit extensive documents to show citizenship or that they are entitled to the ID in question. They must also provide biometric data and participate in interviews held by an immigration officer, sometimes involving witnesses. As LHR explains, many cases remain unresolved because:
Some people cannot produce all the required evidence, especially those with unregistered births or parents who were unregistered (mainly due to inadequate civil registration records for black South Africans pre-1994); and
Despite DHA’s claim of a six to eight week investigation period, the majority of affected people experience excessive delays, often waiting for years for a resolution.
Read our full statement here.