Answer to a question from a reader

Can I get an ID if I was born in SA to foreign parents but my uncle has a valid South African ID?

The short answer

Possibly. In terms of the 2018 judgement in the Naki case, Home Affairs should accept and consider your application.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

I was born in South Africa, although my parents are foreign. I am currently undocumented and cannot further my studies (I have completed matric). I only have a birth clinic card. My father returned to his country and my mother has disappeared. The only family I have left is my father's younger brother who has a valid South African ID. What can I do to get documented?

The long answer

As you were born in South Africa to foreign parents, you can apply for South African citizenship when you are eighteen, if you have not lived anywhere else but South Africa, and if your birth has been registered under the Births and Deaths Registration Act of 1992. (This is in terms of the amended Citizenship Act.)

But as your birth was not registered under the Births and Deaths Registration Act, you need to apply for a birth certificate in “late registration of birth”. It is a long and difficult process, especially as your parents have left the country, but at least there is your father’s brother who will have to stand in and assist you. 

As you are older than 15 years, you would need to provide the following documents to Home Affairs (DHA). You can get the forms from their offices:

  • Application for an ID (Form B1-9);

  • Completed Forms DHA-24, DHA-24/A x 2 and DHA-288 for the registration of birth;

  • Supporting documentation like proof of birth, clinic card etc, as well as written reasons why the birth was not registered within 30 days of birth;

  • Fingerprints of parents or adoptive parents;

  • Your biometrics (fingerprints);

  • Certified copies of parents’ IDs, or asylum permit etc;

  • Certified copy of ID of next of kin (this would have to be your father’s brother).

Even though it probably won’t be possible for you to produce all these documents, and neither of your parents can be there, your application must still be accepted and considered by Home Affairs in terms of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act of 2000 (PAJA), which gives effect to the constitutional right to administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair.

In the 2008 Naki case in the Eastern Cape High Court, the court ruled that the Births and Deaths Registration Act should be read to mean that both parents’ documents must be presented “where possible” when registering a birth. This is because the court took into consideration the difficulties that an undocumented parent/s would experience in trying to register the birth of their child. 

You could ask advice from one of the following organisations which have had a lot of experience dealing with Home Affairs:

Lawyers for Human Rights

Musina: 015 534 2203, Durban: 031 301 0531, Pretoria: 012 3202943, Johannesburg: 011 339 1960. For more information on the constitutional rights of children born to non-South African parents: Liesl Muller at 011 339 1960 or email

The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town

Email: Tel: 021 465 6433. You can also call the Legal Support Hotline on 066 076 8845. To get in touch with their Advocacy Programme, you can call 0782603536 or send a please-call. This is operational between 9am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.

Legal Resources Centre


Tel: Johannesburg: 011 836 9831, Cape Town: 021 481 3000.

Wishing you the best,

Answered on July 8, 2022, 10:24 a.m.

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