Unmarried dads should be allowed to register children’s births, court rules

In a victory for “invisible, undocumented children”, unwed fathers will soon be able to register the birth of their children without the mother being present or giving consent, GroundUp reported.
In a ruling this week, three judges of the Eastern Cape High Court deemed the relevant provision of the Births and Deaths Registration Act to be unconstitutional. It still has to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court.
The matter was initially raised by the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), with the support of the Centre for Child Law, in a “public interest” application against the minister and director general of Home Affairs.
They were acting on behalf of a South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldier who met, and fell in love with, a Congolese woman while posted on a peacekeeping mission in her country. They married according to customary law in the DRC.
She, along with their two children, came to South Africa on a visitor’s permit in 2015, where she gave birth to their third child.
Refused to register birth
Despite the fact that the child was born in South Africa and the father was South African, Home Affairs refused to register the birth because the mother was “undocumented”.
In the High Court in 2018, acting judge Apla Bodlani declined to declare the sections of the act unconstitutional. Instead, he ordered amendments to the wording of some of the regulations.
The LRC was happy with Bodlani’s ruling. In a statement at the time, it said it was a victory for single fathers trying to register births when the mother is foreign and undocumented or absent or had abandoned the children.
But the Centre for Child Law was intent on overturning Section 10, which does not make provision for a child to receive their father’s surname or details of their father on their birth certificate without the mother’s involvement.
Home Affairs did not oppose the appeal.
Judge Sunil Rugunanan, who penned the appeal judgment, said the case affected vulnerable members of society and “a multitude of child cases” born to unmarried fathers.
He said children without birth certificates were “invisible” and were effectively denied support and assistance necessary for their positive growth and development, including education and access to social grants.
“The numerous cases in the (centre’s) papers evoke empathy if one comprehends the extent to which lack of birth registration exacerbates marginalisation,” said the judge.
‘Discriminatory’
Section 10 posed a bar that was discriminatory not only to the fathers of children born out of wedlock, but to the children themselves on the grounds that were arbitrary.
“A law that engenders discrimination with the potential for consequences of the enormity shown, cannot be said to be in the best interests of the child, which is paramount.”
He said the “reading in”, as ordered by Bodlani, had only a limited effect and did not address the fundamental problem that Section 10 in its entirety did not provide a mechanism for a child born out of wedlock to be registered in the surname of his or her father where the mother was absent.
He declared the section unconstitutional, giving the legislature two years to amend it to ensure it is “constitutionally compliant” and referred the order to the Constitutional Court for confirmation.
The centre said: “The judgment affirms the fact that every child has the constitutionally enshrined right to a name and nationality from birth and their best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.”
www.samigration.com

Unmarried dads should be allowed to register children’s births, court rules

In a victory for “invisible, undocumented children”, unwed fathers will soon be able to register the birth of their children without the mother being present or giving consent, GroundUp reported.
In a ruling this week, three judges of the Eastern Cape High Court deemed the relevant provision of the Births and Deaths Registration Act to be unconstitutional. It still has to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court.
The matter was initially raised by the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), with the support of the Centre for Child Law, in a “public interest” application against the minister and director general of Home Affairs.
They were acting on behalf of a South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldier who met, and fell in love with, a Congolese woman while posted on a peacekeeping mission in her country. They married according to customary law in the DRC.
She, along with their two children, came to South Africa on a visitor’s permit in 2015, where she gave birth to their third child.
Refused to register birth
Despite the fact that the child was born in South Africa and the father was South African, Home Affairs refused to register the birth because the mother was “undocumented”.
In the High Court in 2018, acting judge Apla Bodlani declined to declare the sections of the act unconstitutional. Instead, he ordered amendments to the wording of some of the regulations.
The LRC was happy with Bodlani’s ruling. In a statement at the time, it said it was a victory for single fathers trying to register births when the mother is foreign and undocumented or absent or had abandoned the children.
But the Centre for Child Law was intent on overturning Section 10, which does not make provision for a child to receive their father’s surname or details of their father on their birth certificate without the mother’s involvement.
Home Affairs did not oppose the appeal.
Judge Sunil Rugunanan, who penned the appeal judgment, said the case affected vulnerable members of society and “a multitude of child cases” born to unmarried fathers.
He said children without birth certificates were “invisible” and were effectively denied support and assistance necessary for their positive growth and development, including education and access to social grants.
“The numerous cases in the (centre’s) papers evoke empathy if one comprehends the extent to which lack of birth registration exacerbates marginalisation,” said the judge.
‘Discriminatory’
Section 10 posed a bar that was discriminatory not only to the fathers of children born out of wedlock, but to the children themselves on the grounds that were arbitrary.
“A law that engenders discrimination with the potential for consequences of the enormity shown, cannot be said to be in the best interests of the child, which is paramount.”
He said the “reading in”, as ordered by Bodlani, had only a limited effect and did not address the fundamental problem that Section 10 in its entirety did not provide a mechanism for a child born out of wedlock to be registered in the surname of his or her father where the mother was absent.
He declared the section unconstitutional, giving the legislature two years to amend it to ensure it is “constitutionally compliant” and referred the order to the Constitutional Court for confirmation.
The centre said: “The judgment affirms the fact that every child has the constitutionally enshrined right to a name and nationality from birth and their best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.”
www.samigration.com

Woman, dying sister reunite after Australia exempts travel

Associated Press -21 May 2020
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A woman has tearfully embraced her dying sister in Australia after weeks of bureaucracy wrangling over pandemic travel restrictions.
Australia had rejected Christine Archer’s request for permission to fly from New Zealand four times before her story attracted media attention.
Her only sister Gail Baker was diagnosed with incurable ovarian cancer in late March after both countries stopped international travel. Baker has perhaps weeks to live.
Archer was eventually allowed to fly to Sydney and spent only a week in hotel quarantine before testing negative for the coronavirus. International travelers are usually quarantined for two weeks.
Family friends drove the retired nurse 490 kilometers (300 miles) from Sydney to the New South Wales state coastal town of Bowraville.
Archer finally hugged her younger sibling in the front yard of Baker’s home on Wednesday. It was their first reunion in six years.
“Words can’t explain how I feel, to be honest.” Archer told Australian Broadcasting Corp. in an interview aired on Thursday.
“I’m just so happy that I finally got to be here and be with her. The last two weeks have been the hardest or the longest two weeks of my life,” Archer said.
Archer was surprised that her persistence paid off. But she is adamant that Australia made the right decision in allowing her to remain with her sister in her final days.
“I wondered whether the Australian government had any compassion at all with their rejections,” Archer said.
“I honestly don’t know what they were thinking. I know it’s an awful time at the moment with the virus … but, I mean, there are some things you’ve got to be a bit lenient on and I felt this was one of them,” she said.
“I didn’t think I was ever going to see Gail again. That would’ve been the worst thing in the world if that had happened,” she added.
Australia’s Department of Home Affairs relented on Archer’s travel application after it allowed the New Zealand Warriors rugby league team to relocate from Auckland in preparation for the Australian football competition restarting next week.
The department declined to explain its change of heart on the sisters’ reunion, saying in a statement it did not comment on individual cases.
New Zealand has largely succeeded in its goal of eliminating the virus. It has reported no new infections over the past four days and most of the people who contracted the virus have recovered. About 1,500 people have been reported as having the virus including 21 who died.
Australia has had similar success in slowing the virus spread although New South Wales remains the worst-affected state. Australia expects New Zealand will become the first international destination with which regular passenger travel will resume because of the low risk of infection.
Australia has recorded 7,079 virus cases and 100 deaths. Australia’s population is five times larger than New Zealand’s.
www.samigration.com

International travel ban exceptions: whether you qualify and how to apply

Patients with medical emergencies, repatriates and international officials may apply for permission to travel internationally.
May 13, 2020

Although international travel has been banned since South Africa was placed under lockdown on March 25, Department of Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has recently issued updated directions that allow for exceptions. Caxton Local Media unpacks it.
Patients:
In terms of the most recent amendments, entry into the country for emergency medical attention may be allowed if the patient suffers from a life-threatening condition. Anyone who wants to cross South African borders for this reason, must apply to an immigration officer at any port of entry. A comprehensive list of all South Africa’s ports of entry and contact details appears at the bottom of this article.
The application must be supported by:
– Documentary proof of the applicant’s life-threatening condition
– A copy of the applicant’s valid passport.
The immigration officer will inform the Minister of Home Affairs of the application. The intended travel may only be embarked on once the minister’s approval has been obtained.
In the event that a patient with a life-threatening condition requires assistance with physical movement or care, the provider of such assistance must be screened and may be subjected to mandatory quarantine.
Repatriation to South Africa:
South Africans who want to enter the country must apply 72 hours in advance. They must apply to the South African mission in the country where they find themselves. Where there is no South African mission, applicants must approach the Consular Services at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). The entity that receives the application must notify the Minister of Home Affairs, who may pre-approve the said entry.
Applicants must submit the following documentation:
– A copy of the applicant’s passport, identity card or identifying document
– A copy of the applicant’s permanent residence permit, if applicable
– Details regarding the applicant’s travel itinerary in the last two months.
South Africans who have received permission and entered the country will be quarantined.
Repatriation from South Africa into other countries:
Foreigners who wish to exit South Africa have to apply for permission to do so. (Repatriation means “to send or bring someone, or sometimes money or other property, back to the country that he, she, or it came from.” South African citizens who are who are currently in South Africa, but reside overseas, do not qualify as “foreigners” that may be repatriated. This is in terms of the lockdown regulations read with the Immigration Act.)
The application is submitted to the relevant diplomatic or consular mission in South Africa, 72 hours prior to departure.
Applicants must submit the following documentation:
– A copy of the applicant’s passport
– A copy of the applicant’s temporary residence visa or permanent residence permit
– Proof of the applicant’s means of travel.
The diplomatic or consular mission must notify the Minister of Home Affairs or a person designated by him in writing, of the application, whereafter approval may be given.
Officials of international organisations:
Subject to regulations issued by the Department of Health, diplomats and officials of international organisations accredited in South Africa* will be allowed to travel into and out of the country. They will be subjected to physical examinations. Where these persons need visas prior to entering, they may apply for these visas. DIRCO may also issue regulations in this regard.
Once you have arrived…
Movement between provinces:
Those who need to cross provincial boundaries to move homes, must have the following with them:
– A lease agreement or property transfer documents indicating why they have to move
– A police-issued permit.

Note: You will have to go to the police and request the station commander, or the person duly authorised, to grant the moving permit after you have filled out all requested details.

*International Organisations:
African Union [ AU ]
Arab States League
Department for International Development (DFID)
European Investment Bank
European Union [ The Office of ]
French Development Agency/ Agence Franciase de Developpement (AFD)
Goethe-Instituut/ German Cultural and Information Centre
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
International Finance Corporation (IFC)
International Labour Organisation (ILO)
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
International Organisation for Migration (IOM)
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Pan-African Parliament
South African National Commission for UNESCO
Southern African Development Community (SADC)
UN Women
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO)
United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) – Branch Office of South Africa
United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
United Nations Information Centre (UNIC)
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
United Nations Population Fund Africa Division (UNFPA)
United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
World Bank: Resident Mission in South Africa
World Health Organisation (WHO)

www.samigration.com

International travel approved for South Africans working, studying abroad

Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi said certain categories of South Africans may travel to the countries where they are based.
Aaron Motsoaledi reveals festive season safety plan for South Africa’s borders after security breaches. Kopano Tlape GCIS
Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has approved essential travel for South Africans who want to return to countries where they are based.
This follows consultations with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) and the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC).
Wait a minute though, before you pack your bags, there are certain conditions that must be met.
SOUTH AFRICANS PERMITTED TO TRAVEL FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS
South Africans who wish to leave the Republic are permitted to depart for the following reasons only:
• 1. Work;
• 2. Study;
• 3. Family reunion;
• 4. Take up permanent residency; and
• 5. Receive medical attention.
South Africa, like many countries in the world, has implemented travel restrictions as part of the measures put in place to fight the spread of COVID-19. Travel between countries is, however, allowed under special circumstances.
HERE’S WHAT YOU WILL NEED ACCORDING TO HOME AFFAIRS
South Africans wishing to return to the countries where they reside should have the following:
1. A copy of their valid South African passport;
2. A letter confirming their admissibility under the current circumstances from the embassy or other diplomatic/consular representative of the country they want to travel to. If returning by road or connecting via flights, the proof submitted needs to include permission from each transiting country; and
3. Proof of means of travel such as air or bus tickets and the intended date of departure.
South Africans who fall in these categories and satisfy the criteria can send an email to Covid19travel@dha.gov.za.
An email will be sent to travellers who meet the criteria to enable them to proceed with their travel arrangements. Those applying as a group can send one email with the supporting documents for each member of the group.
REPATRIATED CITIZENS ASK DIRCO IF THEY CAN LEAVE SA
Just after returning home, a few South Africans have requested to go back to their previous residences in other countries.
On Thursday 21 May, Dirco Minister Naledi Pandor, put her foot down saying:
“We cannot compel countries to take back persons, and they cannot open their borders because South Africa asks them to do so… No, we will not be assisting those who wish to return to the countries they were repatriated from after the lockdown.”
Pandor said DIRCO has repatriated over 5 000 South Africans and are still to assist more.
www.samigration.com

South Africa: Migrants Excluded From Government Food Aid

All around South Africa, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who have mostly been left out of the government’s official response to the food crisis are going hungry.
For Alice Munyanyiwa, a cup of tea has become a luxury she can barely afford.
When she travelled to South Africa from Zimbabwe at the behest of her father-in-law in May last year, the 25-year-old thought she would be able to build a better life. But she’s struggled to find work in Johannesburg because of a visual impairment.
Munyanyiwa rents a room in a derelict building in Doornfontein. There she found a community of other migrants, many of them also living with disabilities. Residents share one tap and the only toilets they have access to are public ones across the street that are locked at night. Recently, the electricity has been cut off at the building.
The residents relied on the little money they earned while begging on the streets of Johannesburg. But for the past seven weeks this community has seen the little income they earned dry up, making it nearly impossible to buy food. As the three-week hard lockdown turned into five weeks, Munyanyiwa and the other migrants were confined to their small, dark rooms.
Even as the lockdown eased into level four, opportunities to earn money through begging in Johannesburg did not return.
“We are struggling with food and clothes. Winter is coming, and we don’t have any clothes,” she says. “We are just going hungry and struggling. I still have some mielie meal, but we don’t get any nutritious food like fruit or veggies.”
John Zindandi, 38, is blind and has been living in the building since 2010. He moved there after living in the Central Methodist Church in the Johannesburg CBD after the 2008 xenophobic attacks.
“I normally survive through begging. These days are tough, man. We’re not allowed to move around. It’s very tough. We don’t have anything, and we don’t have anybody helping us,” he says. “We are very hungry. In this building, we have over 50 people who are blind. We have nobody caring for us. We are just hearing that people are getting help in other places like Yeoville.”
Like Munyanyiwa, Zindandi says he has mostly been eating once a day.
Excluding migrants
Munyanyiwa and Zindandi are just two of the millions of people in South Africa who have seen their incomes all but disappear during the lockdown, making it harder to buy food. But, as migrants, they have been excluded from the government’s food relief programmes.
Munyanyiwa says she has no idea where to even apply for any relief and has been relying on the generosity of a few strangers who have helped her.
In a joint statement, the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria and the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at Wits University expressed their concerns about the exclusion of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the government’s coronavirus relief schemes.
The legal centres said they were worried about the government’s insistence that applicants for food aid need ID numbers and that citizens are prioritised. “We reaffirm that this is not a time to exclude certain populations within society, neither is it a time to reinforce negative attitudes against non-nationals,” the statement says.
Tshepo Madlingozi, director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, says: “It is important that the government understands that this is not a time to encourage or perpetuate any form of intolerance. Neither will there ever be a time to do so. As such, the government, through the Department of Home Affairs, should explicitly give directions for the protection of asylum seekers in this period.”
In a letter to the presidency and a number of government departments, Thifulufheli Sinthumule, the director of the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (Cormsa), says the pandemic and the lockdown has exposed historic inequality and levels of poverty in South Africa.
“Without doubt, the lockdown has impacted and disadvantaged all people living in South Africa, irrespective of one’s nationality or current documentation status in the country. One thing we know is that Covid-19 does not discriminate and neither should the government’s response to alleviate and address its social and economic consequences,” Sinthumule writes.
The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town warns that excluding documented and undocumented migrants from food relief may open them up to further exploitation and place them at risk of attempting to unlawfully cross the border to return to their countries of origin.
There have been reports of migrant communities nearing starvation elsewhere in South Africa. Health-E News reported that about 600 Zimbabweans living near Louis Trichardt in Limpopo had run out of food because they were unable to earn a living.
Joseph Maposa, a representative of the Zimbabwean community, told Health-E News: “We are so many [Zimbabweans] here and most of us were surviving through part-time jobs such as being house maids, selling various items on the streets, running salons and barber shops, and construction work but due to the lockdown, which we also support, everything has stopped and most of us have run out of food.”
In Zeerust in the North West, Congolese Solidarity Campaign representative Shauri Jonathan Mwenemwitu says Congolese migrants and refugees in the small town are helpless as hunger sets in. “It is very hard. We have no income and no food. It is very hard. Now we are facing hunger, and we don’t have any help.”
Acting MEC for Social Development in Gauteng Panyaza Lesufi says the department is not discriminating against migrants, refugees and asylum seekers when it insists on people needing to be documented.
“Our approach is simple. Whoever is appropriately documented to be inside the country will get support, and if people are not documented to be in the country, it’s unfortunate. We will request them to deal with that aspect so that they can be in a queue. We are not discriminating,” he says.
In a speech on 29 April 2020, Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu clarified the department’s stance, saying it would be “intensifying” its “hunger-targeting food and nutrition distribution programmes” but there was no mention of migrants in these programmes.
Zulu reiterated that refugees qualified for the special Covid-19 social relief distress grant, but would be required to be registered with home affairs.
Alana Potter, the director of research and advocacy at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri), says it is unlawful, discriminatory and inhumane to exclude migrants and undocumented migrants from food relief according to Section 27 (1) (b) of the Constitution.
“South Africa has a long history of using narrow qualifying criteria and onerous registration processes (eg housing lists and indigent registration) as a way to target social benefits,” she says.
“Now that we’re in a crisis, these well-worn methods are the very fault lines used to distribute food and other forms of relief. Indigent registration processes required for people to access free basic services and social grants are onerous, exclusionary and come at high social, financial and economic cost to the poor.”
Hunger and evictions
Malawians Christoph Kenneth, 38, and his wife, Joyce, 29, have both seen their incomes disappear as they have been unable to go to work for nearly two months. Joyce, who usually works as a domestic worker, has been selling tomatoes in the corridor outside the room they rent in a building in Hillbrow.
She says it’s become increasingly difficult for the family to buy food and other essentials including nappies for their six-month-old son, Vincent.
“It’s not been easy. It’s been very hard. There are many people selling tomatoes or other vegetables in the building so I’m not making a lot of money,” she says.
Kenneth adds: “Life now is very hard. If I get R5, I will try and buy two nappies. We are just trying to manage.”
He says the family went from having three meals every day that included tea, sugar and fresh vegetables, to mostly surviving on one meal of mainly pap. “It’s very stressful. I’m lying at night thinking how I’m going to feed my baby, what I’m going to eat. It is very stressful. You can’t guarantee anything. We are just hoping this disease can come under control. We are hoping to do some work soon because I don’t know how I’m going to survive,” he says.
Kenneth says they used to send money back home to family in Malawi, but that’s mostly stopped. They have already spent the little savings the family had on food. “They are saying everyone, even those who are undocumented [can register for food aid]. I want to register but I don’t know where to go or how to do it. If someone can just tell us,” he says.
While Kenneth and his wife have been lucky to negotiate rent payments with their landlord, other migrants have been forced out of their homes despite a nationwide moratorium on evictions.
Last week, Mohammed Foster, 26, and his wife, Jane Afia, 19, who is eight-months pregnant, were evicted from their apartment in the Johannesburg CBD along with the other people in the apartment.
“There is nowhere for us to go. We can’t find a new place now in lockdown. Where are we going to sleep? My wife is pregnant. I don’t know what to do,” Foster says. “We can’t sleep outside. Maybe we will go to the police station and find a place to sleep there. This is a big problem. I am very stressed. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
The young family eventually found a place to sleep with friends in Germiston, east of Johannesburg, while the other people who shared the apartment had to make their own arrangements.
The caretaker of the building, who didn’t want to give his name, says the owners of the building told him to evict Foster and the other people in the apartment after they failed to pay rent. He concedes it “wasn’t fair or right” but insists that Foster and the other people who shared that apartment were warned.
www.samigration.com

Government planning six, one-stop border posts The aim is to enhance efficiency, especially at the heavily congested Beitbridge border post

The government is working on a scheme to develop six, one-stop border posts with its neighbours to ensure greater efficiency in the movement of goods and people.
Priority will be given to the Beitbridge border post connecting SA and Zimbabwe, which is the gateway for most of the land-based trade with the rest of Africa. This border post, the biggest, has long been plagued by lengthy delays, some lasting up to two weeks, which are extremely costly for business.
“The aim of one-stop border posts is to increase the efficiency of trade and the efficiency of movement,” home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi said in an interview on Tuesday.
“This model means that people and trucks will be processed by both countries under one roof. When we move over to this model, people and trucks will only stop once at a border and be processed by both countries [at that one point],” Motsoaledi said.
Investment in infrastructure will be required to develop these border posts and five consortiums have already been shortlisted by the department of home affairs to undertake the work. They are SPG-CHEC JV, CSCEC Imbani Consortium, Border Post Consortium, Hlanganani Consortium and Fastport Consortium, which are made up of major construction and engineering firms.
“We need the private sector. We don’t have the money as the state,” the minister said. The winning consortium will earn money from levies imposed on passing freight traffic, but Motsoaledi believes business will accept this if it means heightened efficiency at the border posts.
“The master plan for the development of Beitbridge has been finalised and we are in the process of appointing a service provider. The service provider will come from one of the five consortiums that were approved in 2018. These consortiums are made up of construction companies and related professional services such as engineering firms. After that, the department will finalise the contracting arrangements before construction starts. This development will be funded on the basis of a 20-year concessionaire.”
The minister said that at Beitbridge, for instance, there will be separate lines for trucks, taxis, private vehicles and pedestrians, which will require construction work. It is also possible that a wider bridge will have to be constructed. Some of the buildings at the other border posts need to be revamped.
“The ports [of entry] will be developed in partnership with the private sector through public-private partnerships, and with our neighbouring countries,” Motsoaledi said.
The development of one-stop border posts will take place alongside the establishment of the Border Management Authority under the department of home affairs. This authority will oversee and co-ordinate the work of numerous government departments at the border posts, with the exception of Sars that will continue to collect customs duties independently.
The Border Management Authority Bill is being processed by parliament.
www.samigration.com

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