New moms struggle to register babies at Home Affairs
New mothers in Johannesburg have expressed frustration at being unable to get their babies registered, due to either long queues or closed Home Affairs offices.
Mpho* visited the Randburg offices in the early hours of Thursday to help her sister register the birth of her three-month-old baby.
Mpho held the infant outside the offices.
Tebogo* was 17 years old and had not yet received her identity document when she gave birth.
The sisters waited their turn in the morning queue but officials intervened in a bid to send them away for a second time.
“They turned her back on Monday and I decided to take leave from work and came to find out what’s the matter. What are we supposed to do with a child who’s not documented because the office doesn’t feel like helping my sister?
“They can’t bully her like this,” Mpho said.
They were told the birth certificate would not be processed on the day but Mpho had to argue for her niece to be registered. “I told them they would be liable if anything happened to the child because she’s undocumented. Only then they let her in.
It’s so disappointing,” she added.
Another young mother Nozuko Langa, 20, visited a Home Affairs office at Maponya Mall in Soweto. The mother of a two-month-old baby girl arrived to closed doors — with a notice reading: “Please accept our apology as Maponya Home Affairs is currently closed until further notice.”
Langa expressed frustration at the closure as she had been forced to use another office in Orlando West.
“I have been coming here for three days and it’s always been closed. It’s frustrating because in the news we were told that all offices would be open across the country,” she said.
Langa said it was against her culture to travel about with a child that had not turned three months old. But she was forced to travel as she needed to apply for a child support grant.
Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza said there had been an increase in child birth registrations since the start of the level 4 lockdown.
The first two days were marked by thousands of applications.
Child birth registrations were not allowed during level 5 of the lockdown, but level 4 has eased that restriction. Services offered now include collection of identity documents and applications for birth certificates.
Qoza confirmed that several branches situated in shared offices with other departments had been closed.
“There are a total of seven offices nationwide which are housed in Thusong centres — which are not owned or leased by Home Affairs. The decision to open these offices does not lie with Home Affairs,” he said.