Dad takes takes on Gigaba over baby's citizenship

FIGHT ON HIS HANDS: Malusi Gigaba is facing a court battle with an SANDF member battling to get SA nationality for his daughter. Picture: Masi Losi

FIGHT ON HIS HANDS: Malusi Gigaba is facing a court battle with an SANDF member battling to get SA nationality for his daughter. Picture: Masi Losi

Published Oct 30, 2016


Johannesburg - An SANDF member has taken Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba to the high court after his department allegedly refused to register his eight-month-old daughter, born to a Congolese woman, as a South African national.

Menzile Lawrence Naki filed papers in the high court in Grahamstown on Tuesday in which he gave a detailed account of his troubles in registering his daughter, who was born in February. In court papers, Naki stated that his child was born at Settler’s Hospital in Grahamstown and her mother is a citizen of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He said he met Dimitrila Marie Ndovya while he was deployed as a peacekeeper in Goma in 2008.

“We fell in love soon after we met and I later proposed to her. In 2008, we entered into a customary marriage in the DRC.

“My mission ended in 2009 and I returned to South Africa. Dimitrila and I remained in constant communication. I returned to the DRC in 2013, on another peacekeeping mission,” he said.

He said in September last year, Ndovya came to South Africa “leaving our elder child in the DRC in the care of her mother. She travelled on her Congolese passport, having been issued with a three-month visitor’s visa in Lubumbashi. The visa expired on December 23, 2015.

“At the time the visa expired, she was heavily pregnant, a factor that made it practically impossible for her to apply timeously for a new visa. Dimitrila also could not leave South Africa due to her pregnancy. She wouldn’t have received medical permission to travel.

“Dimitrila and I decided that given her medical condition, she would apply for a new visa immediately after giving birth, so as to regularise her stay in the country,” Naki said.

She gave birth to the child on February 1.

“At the Home Affairs office, we were advised that my daughter’s birth could not be registered until Dimitrila had regularised her stay in South Africa and could produce a valid visa or permit.

“The Home Affairs officials consequently refused to accept our application and supporting documentation for the registration of Novuyo’s birth.”

He said that was the reason he made the court application under the Promotion of Access to Justice Act to force the Home Affairs Department to register his daughter.

“Dimitrila has been unable to apply, at the Grahamstown office, for a spousal visa or for permission to remain in South Africa pending the outcome of that application.

“She is too afraid to travel to another Home Affairs office to lodge such applications, fearing that she will be arrested or detained as an illegal foreigner,” he said.

“She has found herself with no practical choice but to return to the DRC - with the child.

“We remain unable to register Novuyo’s birth until Dimitrila is lawfully (back) in South Africa and can produce documentation to establish the lawfulness of her presence.

“Without registering Novuyo’s birth, I cannot get her a passport and she will not be able to travel with, or to see, her mother and will be indefinitely separated from her.”

He said he also lodged his court application to help others facing a similar plight.

Sunday Independent

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