Once more we take this opportunity to welcome you all to our media briefing. The media is an important element in ensuring the citizenry is well informed about efforts that government undertakes to constantly improve people’s lives. In this context, our briefing today will focus on, among others, the new births and deaths regulations which came into effect on 01 March 2014, and the invalidation of duplicate IDs.
THE NEW BIRTHS AND DEATHS REGULATIONS
You will recall that we gazetted the Births and Deaths Amendment Act, 2010 on 7 December 2010. We published the Regulations on the Registration of Births and Deaths on 26 February 2014 as required by our statutory procedures.
The Amendment Act and the new Regulations came into operation on 1 March 2014 during an important month in our country dedicated to human rights. Home Affairs plays a pivotal role in ensuring every individual’s human rights are protected.
We see updating and strengthening legislation on births registration as a fundamental step in protecting our national population register, citizenship, identity and human rights.
You would know that recently we have been doing much work also in improving and strengthening our immigration laws.
In our continued efforts to secure the integrity of our national population register, we have effected the following changes:
Firstly we have tightened up processes for birth registration in that, among others, we now require the notification of birth to be made by both parents whose fingerprints we will verify as part of the process of registering children. We also now require the palm, foot or fingerprint of the child whose birth is sought to be registered to be taken and archived.
These measures are being introduced in an attempt to eliminate fraud relating to parentage as well as one child being used to register multiple birth certificates.
If the parents are deceased we require notice of birth to be given by the legal guardian or next of kin of the child.
The birth notification must be submitted within 30 days of birth. We have begun to see a shift in the behaviour of South African parents in that the trend is showing that most births are registered within the first year of birth. This has got to change if we are to have a secure and reliable National Population Register.
We therefore will be introducing a registration fee for those parents who register their children’s birth within the first year but after the 30 day period provided by the law. We hope this will incentivise compliance on the part of parents who have to take seriously the responsibility of parenthood. This entails exercising their civic duty toward their children who have a right to nationality and citizenship. We also have introduced a larger administrative fee for those persons who register the birth of their children after the first year of birth.
We reiterate the call made by the President when he launched the National Registration Campaign in 2010 to ensure that all children are registered within 30 days of birth.
In many countries the law states that children are to be registered immediately after birth. In our country the law provides a leeway of 30 days. In addition we have a footprint in over 300 hospitals both public and private around the country all in an effort to make it easier for parents to access our services.
All birth notifications will be subject to verification and may also be subject to screening through interview processes where there is need to do so.
Birth registration processes have been put in place for various categories of children including:
· Two categories of children born to non-South African citizens (permanent and non-permanent)
· Abandoned and orphaned children may be registered by a social worker designated by the Children’s court
· Adopted children
· South African children born outside of the Republic
· Children born out of wedlock
This last category poses numerous challenges for the department as there are many permutations relating to these types of family relations.
There is the situation where the father is not forthcoming and the birth certificate reflects only the mother of the child. If the father later wishes to acknowledge paternity, in this instance we have difference requirements for fathers who are South African citizens and those that are not.
In this regard we have been aware that single mothers who get involved in relationships with non-South African men come to our offices to record these persons as fathers of their children even if they not the biological fathers.
This is then used by such persons to address our department for permanent status in the country due to the right that children have to be cared for by their parents. In this regard where such a circumstance arises we now require the results of paternity tests. This is applicable to non-South Africans.
Where there is an application by a third party to substitute his particulars as the father of a child and to effectively remove the recorded father’s name in the birth certificate, the regulations now provide that a paternity test must be submitted by the applicant.
The other scenario which transpires is where the parents of a child born out of wedlock are both recorded as parents but their status is unmarried and recorded as such. They subsequently marry and with to change their marital status on the child’s profile, the law provides that this may be done.
The regulations also provide for the different scenarios relating to name-change. One notable insertion into the law is that where an adult person requires a name-change, the application shall be published in the Government Gazette for general public edification, also in this instance, the law provides that no change of birth date may be accepted and consequently no change may be effected to the ID number of the person who changes any part of his/her name.
These are some of the ways through which we hope to restore identity and dignity to all our people in every part of the country, urban and rural, while fostering and promoting social cohesion, nation-building and unity in the state. We have made great strides notwithstanding formidable challenges including fraudulent acquisition of citizenship and fear of excluding some from enjoying benefits of democracy due to gaps in legislation.
INVALIDATION OF DUPLICATE IDs
I wish to register our concern with regard to continued challenges faced by Home Affairs officials in resolving the problem of duplicate IDs. In one of our briefings to you last year, we announced strategic interventions including invalidation of duplicate IDs to swiftly tackle this challenge and, in the process, clean the National Population Register.
With regard to the category of one person with multiple IDs, we have recorded notable progress since we announced our intention to invalidate. We are pleased to report that since we began this process on 30 October 2013, out of 35 270 names published in the government gazette and newspapers, by 28 February 2014, 30 501 cases had been finalized leaving a balance of 4 769.
However, with regard to the category of multiple persons sharing ID numbers there is little progress. Since we started invalidating on 31 December 2013, out of the 15 545 that we published in the government gazette and newspapers, only 3 569 cases were finalized leaving a balance of 11 976 as at 28 February 2014.
SMART ID CARDS
As you well know, the roll-out of the automated smart ID cards is an important component of conscious attempts on our part to modernize the Department of Home Affairs.
We have now processed over 140 749 smart ID cards as at Monday 24 March 2014 and have thus met our target of processing 100 000 cards by 31 March 2014.
The challenge for which we are trying to find creative solutions is that of the increasing number of uncollected smart ID cards which has reached 26 866. And so again we encourage citizens to collect their smart ID cards.
This month we have invited pensioners who are 60 years and above, born in March, to apply for their smart ID cards at the 30 offices earmarked to receive such applications.
We call on first applicants – young people who are 16 years and above – to apply for smart ID cards irrespective of their months of births.
MINISTER PANDOR’S VISIT TO THE USA
Our Minister Naledi Pandor is currently in Dallas, Texas, USA, where she had attended the Globalization of Higher Education Conference. The Minister went there to speak on the South African experience and challenges facing the higher education sector locally and globally. She was to reflect on the transformation of higher education in particular and education in general since the advent of democracy in 1994.
Education is important as it has a fundamental role to play in the production of critical skills we need to meet our economic and social development goals. The Minister is scheduled to return to South Africa on Friday, 28 March 2014.
DEPUTY MINISTER’S VISIT TO BREDASDORP
Tomorrow, Thursday, 27 March, I will be in Bredasdorp, in the Western Cape, where I will open a new Home Affairs office as part of government’s effort to bring services closer to the people.
Opening new offices across the country, particularly in the most rural and remote communities, helps us to expand public services to the entire citizenry.
This is why we have prioritized Bredasdorp which is largely a farming community.
Our people there never had services like these before. This is a first and a big opportunity for us to render services in that part of the country in the year we celebrate 20 years of democracy and justice.
In the past we could only reach citizens in Bredasdorp through mobile offices. Now the people will have daily access due to this excellent opportunity Home Affairs has availed.
ZIMBABWEAN DISPENSATION PROJECT
The Cabinet meeting of the 19 March 2014 approved the approach on the expiry of permits issued under the Special Dispensation for Zimbabweans project (DZP). In this regard, cabinet agreed that the permit holders will be expected to re-apply for their permits in their country of origin. Minister Naledi Pandor will host a media briefing soon to expand on the cabinet decision in this regard.
Transcript Copy; Home Affairs Weekly Media Briefing; Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan, Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Question: Are you able at this moment to elaborate on the last statement regarding work permits to Zimbabweans?
Answer (Ronnie Mamoepa, Head of Communications): The Deputy Minister has just said that the Minister will hold a media briefing soon, possibly next week, to elaborate on the issue.
Question: Can you just give us an update…I understand the Home Affairs will be opened in relation to election day…preparations in the run up to that….where the Department will have a presence and how you will be able to assist people on that particular day with documents they require?
Answer (Deputy Director-General for Civic Services, Vusi Mkhize): The Department is ready and willing to work and collaborate with the IEC in support of 07 May elections and as such there are meetings that are being held to make sure that on that day the mobile offices will be deployed in accordance with the cluster of voting stations. Secondly, we will open in line with the hours of the IEC. Thirdly, the staff that will be working on the day of the elections…we are negotiating with the IEC that they possibly be incorporated as part of special votes so that they are able to go and vote early on the days that will be declared as days for special votes for the IEC and thereafter we will be able to deploy them without denying them their right to vote.
The main essence is that the documents that IEC has agreed upon will be the green, bar-coded ID book, the Smart ID card for the first time during this elections as they were using them during voter registration weekends and issued receipts which will be used just in case…although the IEC assured us that their electronic records could prove whether an individual is registered or not. Also, the temporary identification certificates will be issued both at mobile as well as our local offices which will be opened throughout the country.
The main message emphasized by the Deputy Minister earlier is that people collect their Smart ID cards as well as their ID books which are at Home Affairs offices.
Question: I am just trying to get the rationale behind giving funeral undertakers this new power…how did it work before? Can you please elaborate more on these funeral undertakers having this power to actually register deaths? Also, you spoke of an administrative fee for late registration on births and a larger fee if you register…I think you said after a year…I mean we are talking about people that are obviously impoverished, people who are in rural areas, how much will that fee be and if you cannot afford it then what?
Answer (DDG Mkhize): There are no new powers conferred to funeral undertakers. Instead, there is streamlining and putting more stringent measures to ensure that only legitimate and not fly-by-night undertakers are involved in this process and therefore we allocate them with a dedicated number so that if there is any untoward conduct in relation to a death being registered we are able to trace funeral undertakers involved…also, who, other than the funeral undertaker, was a collaborator in these challenges that we will sometimes have of fraudulent deaths for purposes of fraud particularly in relation to insurance. It also clarifies issues of the next-of-kin and the family being the ones we encourage to register deaths but where funeral undertakers are involved, we must also know their identities.
Just to emphasise, it is worse to have what the United Nations calls a ‘scandal of invisibility’ of our children when they are unknown and they are not identifiable and there is child trafficking and abuse if the children are not registered. When you have an identity as a child, irrespective of what happens to your parents, at least the state can be able to afford support to those children and at least those children have an identity that they can carry for life. When they are not registered they suffer more. The issue of penalties is more of a disincentive to ensure that parents take their responsibilities seriously and our appeal for everyone to take their civil duty responsibilities seriously. It is important to register the children than to look at the penalties.
Question: I would like to know, what is the status of the current copy of the birth certificate? We are told that in many instances when you do some applications, either to government or private institutions, they want a certificate of a person or child with both parents’ names appearing on the footprint of that statement. What is the status of the old certificate? Is it still valid? If so, for how long?
Answer (Deputy Minister Chohan): The issue of the birth certificate issued previously…let me just clarify that there are two types of birth certificate…the first has the details of the child recorded on it but not the parents and we call that the abridged birth certificate. The one that has the details of the parents recorded on it is called the unabridged birth certificate or the full birth certificate. Previously what would have happened because in this country we began the digitization of our records at a particular time, and I cannot recall when that was, but I would imagine somewhere in the 1990s after we became a democracy, not before, most births certificates that were unabridged, in other words, the full records of the parents, etcetera, were manual records and they would have to be accessed… if people in our offices required copies, literally what that meant was we would have to go to huge warehouses situated around the country and physically go an find the original record of birth, make copies of it and put it back. Now you can imagine that this poses a huge challenge for us because we do not have the human resources to do that. So, the first significant charge that happened after democracy was that we were able to digitize some of our birth certificates but some may not be unabridged so the information that was recorded on our system…the electronic information pertaining to the child, him or herself, was then able to be electronically issued as the abridged birth certificate. That was the usual practice and it was not very often that people required the information pertaining to the parents and so the birth certificate in an abridged form seemed to satisfy all requirements especially when one went to schools to register their child and so on. There was no real need to look at the parents’ information.
As society has become more complex and our systems both domestically as well as internationally have had to be tightened up due to things like trafficking, kidnapping and so on. More and more people are now insisting on the unabridged version of the birth certificates. Very early last year, Minister Pandor announced that the Department is now in a position to issue unabridged birth certificates electronically and will be doing so. We have hence the issuing of abridged birth certificates because it seems that those are insufficient for the purposes for which parents require them. Very often people require these for visa applications when they are travelling with their children because embassies will no longer accept an abridged version of a birth certificate when the parents approach them for visas because they want information pertaining to the parentage of the children. So, the Department issues the unabridged version since last year and we have stopped the process of issuing abridged. So it is not the status of the document not being valid but it is really the purpose for which that document is required…it is something different these days than it was previously.
In so far as the administrative fee is concerned, as I explained we launched the National Population Registration Campaign in 2010 and put enormous amounts of resources and addition to which we have travelled to different and very remote parts of our country to raise awareness. Perhaps at every news briefing there is something there that speaks about the importance registering your child within 30 days. We have really put enormous amounts of efforts. It makes no sense for us to spend billions, literally, trying to enhance our services and trying to enable us to ensure that the National Population Register is not just secure from fraudulent activities but is also reliable but then allow people to not register their children for longer periods of time. It is important for the National Population Register, at all times, to be fairly accurate and reliable hence the importance of requiring people to register births, deaths or marriages. So, this is one of our key priorities in the Department. More and more, our National Population Register will form the foundation of other systems in the society, not just government systems but also banking systems, for example. It is absolutely critical that we start developing a culture in South Africa…that people start taking seriously their obligations when they become parents to register their children. We believe this is a civic responsibility that is incumbent on every parent that every child, in terms of our constitution, is deserving of citizenship and identity. In this regard, we have found that there has been a shift where most people now start registering their children early within the first year. But, this is still not good enough because we have found situation where parents unfortunately pass on within that first year not having registered their children and that creates all manner of complications and when we go around the country we hear about these complications where children are brought up by non-relatives and they have to go through processes with the children’s court which takes forever and in the meantime they cannot process pensions and process grants for those children. Accordingly, given the fact that we have gone out of our way to extend our footprint and we are present in over 300 hospitals around the country where there are huge maternity wards and that we have made every effort to ensure that we are as accessible as possible to our communities, we think that now is the right time, four years later, for us to start disincentivising this practice of late registration of birth. We do that by the admin fee which is based on whether you register within the first year or after the first year. After the first year will be a more cumbersome process and there will definitely be a screening process in addition to which you will pay a higher fee. The admin fee for late registration within the first year of birth is R70.00. I am not sure what the admin fee is proposed to be outside of the first year of birth. Please remember that will happen after a year has passed since the regulations came into place on 01 March 2014.
Issued by Department of Home Affairs
26 March 2014