The short answer
You may wish to consult the following organisations for advice
The whole question
How can matric learners without IDs apply for an ID to write their final exams? Also, what if they aren't South African citizens?
The long answer
In 2019 more than 13 000 undocumented students wrote their matric. This followed a hugely important judgement by Judge President of the Eastern Cape, Selby Mbenenge in the Makhanda High Court in December 2019. The court found that Section 29 of the Constitution protected the right of all children to basic education, whether or not they had official documentation, and that clauses 15 and 19 of the schools Admission Policy for Ordinary Public Schools of 1998 were unconstitutional.
Clause 15 required a parent to present the school with an official birth certificate for the learner, and if the parent could not present the birth certificate, the child could be admitted conditionally until the certificate was obtained from Home Affairs. If the birth certificate was not forthcoming from Home Affairs within 3 months, subsequently amended to 12 months, the learner could be excluded from the school.
Clause 21, dealing with admission of non-citizens, required a parent to prove that they had applied to Home Affairs to legalise their stay in the country under the Aliens Control Act of 1991.
The judge found both clauses unconstitutional and said that undocumented children should not be punished for the choices of their parents or caregivers, and no child should be excluded from an education, which was fundamentally important to the development of the child and its future ability to become employed and live with dignity.
The Education Department was interdicted from excluding or removing any child, even illegal foreign children, after being admitted to school simply because the child did not have an ID, a birth certificate or other documentation. Where a learner could not provide a birth certificate, school principals were ordered to accept alternate proofs of identity such as an affidavit or sworn statement by the parent, caregiver or guardian.
Previously, learners had been excluded from schools and from writing matric if they had not been able to produce documentation. The court heard that there were almost a million undocumented learners, of whom 87% were South African, whose parents had been unable for various reasons to obtain documentation from Home Affairs.
After the attempted suicide of a learner in 2018 who was told he could not write his matric without an ID number, the Education Department spokesman Muzi Mahlambi said at the time: “There is no child who cannot write because they don't have an ID. No child will be turned away. We will intervene.” In the case of undocumented foreign learners, the Education Dept would “allow these candidates to register to write the examination. But these candidates will not have their results issued until they produce the necessary documentation.”
Despite the 2019 Makhanda court ruling, whether undocumented matric candidates will be issued with matric certificates is still at issue.
Umalusi (the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training) is the body that issues matric certificates. In January 2020, the Umalusi spokesperson, Lucky Ditaunyane, said that undocumented learners are issued with their matric certificates with their date of birth rather than ID number. He said that the certificate would be as good as one with an ID number when applying for a job or for university.
But higher education institutions require a copy of the applicant’s ID, as does the NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme), so the road ahead is still a rocky one for undocumented learners.
Elijah Mhlanga of the Basic Education department advised parents to speedily apply to Home Affairs for assistance in obtaining IDs as their children would continue to face problems if they were undocumented. Without their own IDs parents cannot apply for documents for their school-going children, nor open bank accounts or access child support grants.
When applying for an ID, DHA Form B1-9 must be filled out in black ink at Home Affairs. If there is no birth certificate, forms DHA-24, DHA-24/A x 2 and DHA-288 must be filled in to register the birth.
The problem is that Home Affairs is generally admitted to be increasingly dysfunctional and takes an inordinately long time to deal with applications.
Parents, particularly those who are not South African and who are struggling with these problems, may wish to consult the following organisations for advice and assistance:
Scalabrini Centre (Cape Town)
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 021 465 6433
Legal Resources Centre
Email: [email protected]
Tel: Cape Town: 021 481 3000
Tel: Johannesburg: 011 836 9831
Lawyers for Human Rights
Tel: Cape Town: 021 424 8561
Johannesburg Office and law clinic
Tel: 011 339 1960
Answered on June 22, 2020, 9:21 a.m.