Programme Director,

Honourable Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo,

Honourable Member of Parliament, Ms Dudu Sibiya,

Representatives from the National Council of Provinces,

Representatives from Local Government,

CEO of the Newcastle Provincial Hospital, Mr Khulekani Dlamini,

Senior managers from the Newcastle Provincial Hospital,

Senior managers from the Department of Home Affairs,

Distinguished guests,

Members of the media.


Good morning and welcome!

The civic registration office we are officially opening today is one of many that signify our commitment as the Department of Home Affairs, working with the Department of Health, to ensure that all new-born babies are registered on the spot at a health facility where they are born.

Birth registration is fundamental to the efficient determination and safe-guarding of the identity and status of all people born in South Africa. The birth certificate is a necessary document required for citizens to access all vital government services and to enjoy the full benefits of South African citizenship.

Furthermore, demographic information recorded during the birth registration process is crucial for the maintenance of an accurate National Population Register (NPR), which supports evidence-based policy-making and appropriate public service delivery.

Section 28(a) of the South African Constitution states that: “Every child has the right to a name and a nationality from birth.” As such, parents and guardians are, under the Constitution, obliged to register the birth of their children timeously, after birth.

However, as a result of the country’s history, South Africa has not achieved universal birth registration. The Births, Marriages and Deaths Registration Act of 1923 was neither universal nor inclusive in its scope and only covered certain segments of the population based on location and population group.

In addition, the lack of infrastructure in rural areas and forced removals limited the means and motivations of South African citizens to register births within the 30-day window period as required by the law.

Through our partnership with the Department of Health, we have embarked on a project to optimise birth registration at health facilities across the country. Within the next two years, we aim to rollout an online birth registration system in all 1 445 public health facilities with maternity wards nationally, to ensure that all children born are issued with a birth certificate before their discharge from hospitals.

Thus far, we have established a presence in 391 health facilities across the country for the registration of births, of which 322 are public and 69 are private health facilities. The Newcastle Provincial Hospital service-point is one of the public health facilities capacitated to register and issue out birth certificates on the spot.

This service-point is managed and resourced by the DHA Amajuba Large Office, which is a stone throw away from the health facility. With the expansion of the Home Affairs service-points in health facilities, we want to make sure that citizens can register the birth of their children and receive full birth certificates before leaving the hospital.

It saves parents from making a second trip to a Home Affairs office and queuing with people applying for IDs, passports, marriage and death certificates. If we can register all births at hospitals where we have online birth registration, we will go a long way in achieving universal birth registration. Even those who give birth at home, still need to go to a health facility for a check-up, where they can register within 30 days.

As the Department of Home Affairs, we are also leveraging on technological advancements and aligning ourselves with the Fourth Industrial Revolution in improving operational systems. One of the lessons that we’ve learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic is the importance of technology when major disruptions are the order of the day.

Technology will continue to play an even greater role in supporting our core businesses and providing them with appropriate systems to execute their responsibilities. During this financial year, we’ve also begun with the paperless automation of birth registration project in order to eradicate fraudulent birth registrations and curb statelessness.

In the next few months, we will employ 10 000 youth, some of whom will be graduates and others will have completed matric. We hope that some will come from Newcastle.

We intend to work with the youth to assist us to digitize over 300 million paper-based records which include birth certificates. This will ensure that we do not have to go to our offices to manually look for your records, but once digitized all records will be available at the press of a button.

We are also piloting the Branch Appointment Booking System (BABS) so that as a member of the public you can book a slot and only go to Home Affairs when you know for sure that you will be served at a particular time, to avoid standing in a long queue.

This forms part of the strategic interventions we are employing to wage a war against the long queues that have become a pain point at our frontline offices. We are also hard at work to resolve the challenges of our network architecture that leads to system downtime.

As you may know, cable theft is another contributor to system downtime that undermines our efforts as government to provide an efficient and effective service delivery. This requires all of us, as leaders and community members, to play a role in protecting our very own infrastructure and to report those criminal elements in our communities to law enforcement agencies.

Furthermore, the National Treasury has supported the department with an allocation of over 280 million Rand to be able to employ close to 900 officials. Many of those will be deployed at frontline offices as Office Managers, District Managers and front line workers to ensure that we can improve speed and agility in serving you and in improving our operations.

Our ultimate goal as government is to improve people’s lives and to ensure that their dignity is restored by delivering effective and efficient services that are aligned to the Batho Pele principles of putting the people first. 

This being Human Rights Month, allow me to conclude with these words from the former President of the Republic of South Africa, Dr Nelson Mandela:

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

It is in this spirit that we all must work together to ensure children are not denied of their identity and status, by ensuring that every child is registered within 30 days!

I thank you.