Answer to a question from a reader

Home Affairs won't issue a birth certificate for my daughter because she was born in Lesotho

The short answer

The Constitutional Court ruled in July 2020 that children born in other countries with at least one South African parent are entitled to citizenship

The whole question

Dear Athalie

I am a South African citizen but Home Affairs is refusing to give my daughter a birth certificate because she was born in Lesotho.

The long answer

You will be relieved to hear that after a seven-year legal battle between Lawyers for Human Rights and Home Affairs, the Constitutional Court ruled in July 2020 that children born in other countries are entitled to South African citizenship as long as one parent is South African.

In an interview on Cape Talk, Liesl Muller of Lawyers for Human Rights confirmed that, “The position now, as the Act reads, a person who is born in or out of South Africa, with one or other of his or her parents being a South African on the day of their birth, shall be a South African citizen by birth.

Up until this ruling in July 2020, Home Affairs interpreted the law on citizenship by descent to mean that no child born in another country after 2013 qualified for citizenship, no matter if their parents were South African or not.

Now, it is likely that, although the top officials at Home Affairs acknowledge that they must comply with the Constitutional Court ruling, it will take a while for this to filter down to the lower officials at Home Affairs.

So, perhaps you should consult Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) for help and advice on what you need to do to get your child a birth certificate. These are their contact details:

Musina: 015 534 2203

Durban: 031 301 0531

Pretoria: 012 3202943

Johannesburg: 011 339 1960

You can also email Liesl Muller (Unit Manager) at or call the Johannesburg LHR office on 011 339 1960.

Wishing you the best,

Answered on March 3, 2021, noon

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