There is an assumption that foreign nationals who give birth on South African soil automatically acquire citizenship for their offspring, this is false.
In cases where both the parents are not citizens/residents, the child is issued with a “notice of birth”. This document is not acknowledged as an identity document and cannot be used to register children for school or to collect social grants. This document can be used however, to obtain a passport on behalf of the infant at the relevant embassy with in South Africa, to register the child for a passport, in order for the parents to obtain the correct visa to match their own (accompanying child).
In the case where one of the parent’s is a South African citizen, the parent will be able to apply for citizenship on that basis however they will then need to firstly apply for an unabridged birth certificate. The unabridged birth certificate lists both of the parents name’s on it, or at least it should. In South Africa the foreign national of the child is not listed on the unabridged birth certificate and as one can imagine this has caused much havoc.
Cape Town attorney, Joy van der Heyde referred to a case where a child was a child was in ICU. The foreign parent who had full medical aid coverage had to show evidence of this by providing the unabridged birth certificate. With the certificate not bearing the foreign parent’s name, the medical aid refused to pay the costs as there was no evidence of this fact.
This unfortunate circumstance also affects the millions of adopted children too. There are abandoned children who have potential parents, willing and able to take them into their homes and invite them in as part of their families yet legally the children are required to have a name, identity number or country of origin. These children who are abandoned by their foreign parents are literally left in limbo.
Esther Lewis, spokesperson for the Western Cape Department of Social Development ensures us that they will take care of the children that are in need of care and protection. They also state that all children must have birth certificates!
On a more positive note the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHR) are going to review why children born in South Africa to foreign parents are not being issued birth certificates as well as why they are not automatically awarded citizenship. Advocate Priscilla Jana, deputy chairperson of SAHR, said she was not aware that unabridged birth certificates were not being issued to children of foreign parents and that they will be looking into this matter very seriously.
Hopefully this all comes to a positive close, if for no other reason, than at least to allow these millions of homeless children to be adopted by the families that are willing to give them the loving homes that they deserve.