Penalties for late birth registration

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pretoria - The clock is ticking for parents who do not register their children’s birth timeously, with the Department of Home Affairs now enforcing a penalty for late birth registration.

Briefing reporters on Wednesday on new birth and death regulations, Home Affairs Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan urged parents to register their children’s birth within 30 days. Parents that register their children after the 30-day period, but within a period of a year, will be liable for a penalty fee.

“The admin fee for late registration but within the first year of birth is R70,” she said.

This regulation, along with others, came into effect on 1 March 2014 following the gazetting of the Births and Deaths Amendment Act in December 2010. This was followed by the publication of the Regulations on the Registration of Births and Deaths on 26 February 2014.

The department has previously put enormous resources to raise awareness about the importance of registering children within 30 days of their birth, with the national population registration campaign that began in 2010.

Registering children is important for the National Population Register.

“It makes no sense for us to spend billions literally trying to enhance our services to enable us to ensure that the National Population Register is not just secure from fraudulent activities, but that it’s also reliable, and then allow people to not register their children for long periods of time.

“It’s important for the National Population Register at all times to be fairly accurate and reliable, hence the importance of requiring people to register - whether its births, marriages or deaths,” explained the deputy minister.

She said the register will gradually form the foundation of other systems in society, not just government.

“It’s absolutely critical that we start developing a culture within South Africa  that people start taking seriously their obligations when they become parents to register their children,” she stressed.

The department is present in over 300 hospitals countrywide to make it easier for parents to register their children. At the same time though, Deputy Minister Chohan said, the message of the importance of registration was starting to filter through.

“Every child in terms of the Constitution is deserving of citizenship and identity. We found that there is a shift to register children within the first year,” she said.

In some cases, parents passed on without having registered their children, resulting in children not only not having an identity document, but also not having access to their grants.

“Now is the right time for us to start dis-incentivising this practise of late registration,” the deputy minister said.

In instances where parents are deceased, a legal guardian or next-of-kin may give notice of birth. For children born out of wedlock and the father is a non- South African, the act requires proof of paternity. Proof of paternity will also be required when replacing a father in the National Population Register.

“We see updating and strengthening legislation on births registration as a fundamental step in protecting citizenship, identity and human rights” said Deputy Minister Chohan.

Notices of births given to South African citizens and non-South African citizens, under the regulations, are now separate.

Under the old regulations, emphasis was on using fingerprints for identity verification.  The new regulations are paving the way for the use of biometrics including photos, fingerprints, palm or footprints and hand measurements, among others, that may be used to verify identity. -