My baby is still being rejected by her country of birth

South African Home Affairs

When I got pregnant, one of the last things I was worrying about was the admin involved in Harley’s birth. I mean, babies are born all the time and they get birth certificates – it’s not even a question, right? Well, Harley is now seven months old and she still doesn’t have an ID, a birth certificate, or even a proof of baby registration, and it’s all because I’m foreign.

Yup, it’s my fault that Harley is in limbo, all because I dared fall in love with a South African while being from overseas. While I was pregnant, my residency permit was up for renewal. As usual, I contacted my immigration dude from Execuserve. I’d previously had issues trying to sort out Home Affairs things myself, so I used Andrew and typically didn’t have any issues. Anyway, Andrew submitted my application, just waiting on the police clearance and all would continue to tick over as normal. Except Harley needed to come early.

In theory, my residency should have been updated by the end of January when she was due. Instead, she came eight weeks early, while I was still in limbo. My poor husband – his wife was in ICU, his infant daughter was in NICU, and the ladies from Home Affairs who deal with these things in the hospital told him that they wouldn’t talk to him. That’s right; he had copies of his ID, copies of my passport, copies of our unabridged marriage certificate, forms to register Harley… and Home Affairs outright refused to speak to him. Apparently, they did this to another woman (with a foreign husband) whose baby was in the NICU at the same time as Harley, too.

So, instead of being able to solely focus on getting our family healthy again, we had to escalate as much as we could within the hospital, but there was nothing they could do – the Home Affairs ladies who visit are totally separate and out of their control. Instead, we did the only thing we could do – sent off all the documentation to Andrew, our immigration dude, and hope for the best.

For the first couple months,  I followed up with him every week. He was waiting to hear back from Home Affairs but was getting nowhere. He told me to be patient, that these things could take up to six months. I sighed and was frustrated, but what more could I do?

Last month, I spoke to Andrew and he said that he still wasn’t coming right. He had a few families in similar situations and none of them were getting birth certificates from Home Affairs. He asked if I didn’t know anyone else to go through, that he felt awful but was striking out and obviously wanted Harley to be registered.

Before anyone starts to wonder, the law is quite clear on this. Harley is the child of a South African, born in South Africa. She is totally entitled to her South African citizenship, and Home Affairs is actually breaking the law by not registering her and issuing her birth certificate.

Okay, so I just need to get a lawyer to sort this out, right? Easy enough… except now that’s going to cost us R20 000. That’s right, twenty thousand Rands because Home Affairs is being xenophobic and breaking the law simply to make our lives more difficult because I’m foreign.

All I want is for me and Harley to be legal in South Africa. Dean and I are upstanding citizens – we pay our taxes, we try to do good in our community, we participate in the economy and hopefully help to spread a positive image of South Africa. Unfortunately, this country seems determined to make us feel like second class citizens, to deny our baby her citizenship, to force us to spend thousands of Rands to resolve an issue that shouldn’t exist in the first place.

So, in the hopes that we can save that money for her future, or any other activity other than legal fees, here is my last ditch effort. Please help me by pressuring Home Affairs on social media. Click this link and tweet at them, telling them to please register Harley, to please welcome her to the country of her birth so that we can actually feel like South Africa is our home instead of feeling like unwelcome outsiders. Maybe if we make enough noise on social media, someone who can sort this out will actually listen…

[UPDATE] Thank you all for tweeting! I have been contacted by new people at Home Affairs who seem understanding. Here’s hoping that they are able to resolve things quickly and efficiently. I will, of course, keep you all updated.

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  • Tweet to the minister of home affairs that’s the only way anything gets resolved these days

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      Going to push the new contacts that I received. If that doesn’t work, tweeting the minister next. Crazy that social media is what works best.

  • Zayaan27

    My husband’s niece is going through the exact same thing because her husband is from Jordan. Two kids later and they’re both unregistered. It’s so frustrating!

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      Insane! If these new contact details work, I will forward to you in the hopes he can help your family, too.

      • Zayaan27

        Thanks chick. Good luck with the whole situation xx

  • Ursula Van Lelyveld

    This is crazy! I tweeted

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      Thank you so much!! Every tweet helps.

  • I totally feel you on this, my husband is Dutch, he ended up moving back to the Netherlands in January because home affairs lost his visa with study exemption, while this is still open he couldn’t apply for a work exemption forcing us into a 1 income household. When he left the country the previous visa had expired and they marked him as a undesirable, he isn’t allowed back into the country for longer than 3 months at a time, even tho we had the receipts with dates and proof of all the numbers dialed to try and locate his visa. We are not long distancing it till I can leave as well. I really hope you guys come right! Every tweet counts

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      That is just awful! I can’t believe how Home Affairs is actually pulling apart families!! If this twitter campaign helps, I will definitely give you the new contact details that I received – hope they can help you, although your story makes me so sad and pessimistic. 🙁

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