Answer to a question from a reader

How can I get an ID for my child when Home Affairs says they need his Malawian mother’s details too?

The short answer

Only one parent's ID is required to apply for an ID, according to Home Affairs' website, so you may want to get legal help.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

When my son was born almost twenty years ago, I registered his birth at Home Affairs using my ID and his Malawian mother's residence permit. Since then, his mother and I have divorced and I do not know where she is anymore. I'm trying to help my son apply for his ID. Home Affairs says they want the mother's details too but the only information I have of hers is from before she became a permanent resident so I don't want to use those details.

The long answer

On their own website, this is what the Department of Home Affairs says are the requirements for applying for a first-time ID for 16- year-olds and upwards:  

1. Birth certificate 

2. Certified copy of one of the parent/legal guardian/informant’s identity document (my emphasis)

3. Death certificate or certified copy if parents are deceased 

4. Proof of residence (where it is available) or provide residential address 

If you have a certified copy of your ID (you being the South African parent) and a certified copy of your son’s birth certificate, as well as your marriage and divorce certificates, I can see no reason at all why Home Affairs should need the mother’s details as well.

If they continue to state this, in spite of what their own website says, I would consult an organisation like Lawyers for Human Rights, which has much experience dealing with difficulties created by Home Affairs.

These are their details:

Lawyers for Human Rights


Pretoria: 012 320 2943

Johannesburg: 011 339 1960

Wishing you the best,

Answered on Oct. 31, 2023, 1:15 p.m.

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