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Migrants and refugees protest over their children being denied schooling since they have no birth certificates

Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: Bongani Shilubane

Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: Bongani Shilubane

Published Dec 10, 2021

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Consortium for Refugees and Migrants South Africa(CoRMSA) took to the streets to protest outside the Home Affairs offices in Pretoria yesterday.

They are demanding that birth certificates be issued for foreign national children, claiming that immigrant youngsters are denied access to education and healthcare facilities due to not having birth certificates.

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It blamed Covid-19 obstacles and departmental delays for the delivery of applications for birth certificates.

But Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said they were exaggerating if they claimed they couldn’t access education and healthcare services.

“It’s a bit of an exaggeration to say people don’t get healthcare, or they don’t get education. Let’s start with education. I issued a memo two years ago, together with Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, stating that we won’t stop children from registering in school simply because they don’t have documentation. We said children could go to school and documentation would follow,” said Motsoaledi.

In 2019, Grahamstown High Court declared the Department of Basic Education admission policy of barring undocumented both South African and non-national children unconstitutional

Motsoaledi said he was angered that South Africa was being abused by people from other parts of the world who were demanding things that they desire which they couldn’t even try to demand in the countries where they came from.

“I want to state that this must stop, because it’s not going to work at any rate it. People are even using political pressure and marches to try and bulldoze the Department of Home Affairs. I just want to warn you that this is not going to work, because it’s becoming extremely unacceptable.”

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According to Motsoaledi, immigrant children received a registration of birth document that is recognised by law. The document contains the child’s name, information of both parents, date of birth and the name of the hospital they were born in.

“Not everybody who is not a South African is entitled to a birth certificate, because a birth certificate contains a South African ID number and that means you are a South African citizen. We give them (foreign children) registration of birth certificates and we expect them to go to their embassies to obtain a birth certificate of the country where they come from. That registration of birth is a document that is recognised by law in the republic,” he said.

Motsoaledi said that the consortium had to stop lying to manipulate public opinion against the South African state, or to blackmail the country by the use of the word “xenophobia”.

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“Anyone who wants anything from South Africa pushes the word ’xenophobia’ forward. The government must pull back; we are not going to do that,” he concluded.

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