An eight-year-old girl will attend school for the first time this morning after her desperate parent’s battle as she did not have a birth certificate.
The parents decided to turn to the high court in Durban for help, and while their urgent application was adjourned to give the respondents time to file papers, lawyers acting for them said space had been found at a local school, and the child would be assessed and then placed today.
The respondents in the case are the national and provincial departments of Education and Home Affairs.
The problem arose because the mother was an orphan from Swaziland who has no papers.
Advocate Stuart Humphrey, representing the couple, placed on record that the departments had promised to work together to ensure that the child and her two-year-old sister got birth certificates.
It was also planned they would also attempt to get some sort of ID for the mother.
The couple, who cannot be named to protect the identity of their Durban-born children, said the eldest had no formal education because she had been turned away from schools since 2014 as she had no birth certificate.
In his affidavit, the father said his wife was born in Swaziland and placed immediately in an orphanage, where she lived until she was 15 years old.
She had never known her biological parents.
“She was abused at the orphanage and as a result she fled to Durban, arriving in February 2007,” he said.
After the birth of both of their children, they had repeatedly attempted to register and get birth certificates for them, but were always turned away because of their mother’s lack of an ID.
“We tried in vain to obtain proof of identity for her from Swaziland. We contacted the orphanage, but we were told they had no records for her and, if they did, they would have been destroyed.
“Without an ID number, she cannot even make enquiries through the various government departments to obtain proof of her identity.
“And now we cannot even make an application for her to become a permanent resident of South Africa.
“And our children, without birth certificates, cannot be enrolled in a public school.”
He said the eldest had been attending informal educational classes at the local library after being refused enrolment for Grade 1 at a nearby local school at the beginning of 2015.
Again, in spite of being assisted by their attorneys, she was turned away from another local school at the beginning of this year.
“Our children have a constitutional right to education. But it seems these schools think they have the right to deny them admission,” the father said.
The respondents indicated they would file papers by the end of this month.
Tania Broughton — Cape Times 4 April 2016