What South African laws exist around birth registration in South Africa?

There are several laws in South Africa which confirm a child’s right to a birth certificate. As we will see in Section 6 of this article, the reality is quite different. The Constitution of South Africa: The Bill of Rights A number of the rights in the Bill of Rights apply to both citizens and […]

What does international law say about birth registration?

International law is very clear about a child’s right to birth registration. Here are some of the international laws that speak to this issue – of which South Africa is a signatory, meaning that it must uphold their provisions and not take actions against their goals and principles. 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights This […]

Why is birth registration so important?

In South Africa, a birth certificate is vital to access the following rights:1 A right to a name and nationality, as set out at Section 28 of the Constitution. Without a birth certificate there is no way to prove a child’s nationality, A right to basic education, as set out in South Africa’s Bill of […]

What does a birth certificate look like in South Africa?

In South Africa, a ‘Notice of Birth’ is issued when a child is born and certain documents (such as a medical witness to the birth) are provided. This is a prerequisite to being issued a birth certificate at the Department of Home Affairs. Recently, however, the Department of Home Affairs has set up ‘offices’ at […]

What is birth registration?

As we will discover in this article, it is set in international law that every child – wherever they are born, and whoever they are born to – must have their birth registered. This means that the birth is officially recorded by a branch of a government or state. In South Africa, children who qualify […]


In contrast, the 1997 Green Paper included a list of sources and references. The SADC region is made up of the following member states: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The statistics in the White Paper for deportations are from […]

Children and the White Paper

Both the Green and White Papers on International Migration fail to mention the specific needs of migrant and refugee children. In response to this, joint submissions were lodged focusing solely on children’s issues. Migrant children have severe trouble accessing documentation options in South Africa. No systems exist to record entry of migrating children and therefore […]

Other provisions of the White Paper

The White Paper also includes provisions, to which our submissions did not reply. This included better managing ties with South African expatriates, and improved integration systems for international migrants in South Africa (such as legal advice desks). For highly skilled migrants from other continents than Africa, the White Paper sets out a points-based system. Skilled […]

Changes to refugee status and permanent residency

Those with refugee status will no longer be able to access permanent residency, but they might be able to access the long-term residency visa. As abovementioned, those refugees applying to permanent residency are subject to a thorough process. We are of the belief that, for those refugees who can never return home, permanent residency is […]

Funding the Asylum Processing Centres

It is not clear who will bear the cost of the Asylum Seeking Processing Centres. The White Paper acknowledges that ‘Additional … will be required’ for the Processing Centres, and indicated that Home Affairs is ‘developing a business case’ for the funding of the White Paper’s implementation. We are concerned that, aside from the implications […]

The South African asylum system

The White Paper plans fundamental changes to the South African asylum system,5 which has caused deep concern within civil society. Why the White Paper wants to change the asylum system The White Paper finds the current asylum system to be overburdened, under-funded and non-functioning. Asylum adjudications take years, and many asylum-seekers hold expired documentation. On […]

Permanent residency and citizenship

The White Paper wants to change the way permanent residency and citizenship are granted. The White Paper wants to de-link temporary residency and refugee status leading to permanent residency all together. The White Paper also wants to de-link permanent residency leading to citizenship. Instead, it plans to provide: A ‘long-term residence’ instead of permanent residency, […]

Changes towards migrants from Africa

African continent The White Paper takes a pan-African stance, which seeks to move away from the colonial legacies of previous migration policies. The Paper references the AU Agenda 2063, which calls for the abolishment of visa requirements for all African citizens. The White Paper aims for visa-free travel for African citizens (i.e., the ability to […]

Our general stance on the White Paper

We welcome the White Paper’s philosophy of linking migration to development. We also welcome the moves towards more mobility in the SADC region and African continent. At the same time, we are concerned that the White Paper fixates on the link between migrants and criminality, and makes provision only for ‘designer migrants’ – those who […]

Know your rights

There are a number of laws in South Africa which protect your right to safety, offer protection from harassment; and promote bodily integrity. The Protection from Harassment Act1 (Act 17 of 2011) addresses harassment and stalking behaviours, which violate the individual’s Constitutional right to privacy and dignity. The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) […]

What can I do if I see sexual harassment happening?

As a witness (bystander) to sexual harassment there are certain things that you can do to contribute to disrupting the incident of sexual harassment. It is always important to keep your own safety in mind in all situations. If you feel it safe to do so, here are some steps you can take if you […]

What can I do if I’ve experienced sexual harassment?

In public Every situation is different so there is no ‘right’ response. Key to deciding what to do is your own safety. You may decide that no reaction is the safest response. If you do decide to respond: Be firm and let the harasser know in a strong, clear voice that their behaviour is unacceptable. […]

Where can sexual harassment occur?

Sexual harassment does not only happen in the workplace! Sexual harassment can happen in many places, including in a school/place of learning, on public transport (taxi, bus, train), and on the streets.

What are the different forms of sexual harassment?

Some forms of sexual harassment include: Physical conduct Unwanted touching or physical contact (e.g. an arm around the shoulder; a hand placed on a thigh or another part of the body; standing up against someone after being told to move away); Being subjected to a strip search in the presence of someone of the opposite […]

How do I know it is sexual harassment?

Is the conduct of a sexual nature? Is the conduct unwelcome? Do you feel uncomfortable? Do you feel you are being punished for your perceived gender or sexual orientation? The Code of Good Practice on Sexual Harassment states that: “Sexual attention becomes sexual harassment if: (a) The behaviour is persisted in, although a single incident […]

What is Sonke seeking in its court case?

The essential argument of Sonke’s case is as follows: The State is obliged (in accordance with section 7(2) of the Constitution) to create a prison inspectorate with sufficient independence to enable it to function effectively; and Presently, JICS lacks the necessary structural and operational independence and legal powers to discharge its functions effectively and maintain […]

Why the need for litigation?

Considering the important role played by effective and independent prison oversight bodies, and the current problems plaguing JICS, there is a need to take action to ensure JICS’ efficacy. In particular, some recent Constitutional Court judgments – such as Glenister v President of South Africa – have described the minimum requirements for independence, and these […]

What are the current problems facing JICS?

JICS faces various challenges and fundamental flaws, which hinder its effectiveness, which include: Lack of independence: JICS is required to report to the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) – the very department that it is supposed to hold accountable. This undermines JICS’ independence, legitimacy and effectiveness. JICS’ CEO is appointed by the National Commissioner for […]

Why is it important to have a prison oversight body?

Prisons operate largely outside the public eye, and are referred to as “closed institutions” due to the difficulty of accessibility. Therefore, independent prison oversight is vital to the protection of inmates’ human rights, because: Regular monitoring acts as a preventative measure against human rights abuses in prisons. Regular reporting allows prison and inmates’ issues to […]