The African Diaspora Forum (ADF) held a meeting on 18 January 2017 at their offices in Yeoville, Johannesburg. The meeting was held to discuss firstly, the ADF’s response to Mayor Herman Mashaba’s silence over the Forum’s letter that had been sent to his office. Secondly, to discuss issues facing members of the migrant community who have children with South Africans.
Marc Gbaffou, Chairperson of ADF said they are still are worried about the Mayor’s xenophobic utterance and the violence this could cause. “All migrant citizens must challenge the Mayor,” he said. “We are still ignored.” The ADF organised a march against the Mayor’s statement on 19 December 2016, handing over a memorandum to the Mayor, but he has not responded. “We gave the Mayor until 16 January 2017 to respond,” said Marc Gbafou. “It is the Mayor’s duty to respond to the memorandum.”
The ADF representatives in the meeting concluded that they would write a letter to the Mayor, requesting a response within a reasonable time frame of two weeks (14 days), and engage the media to raise awareness before taking any action.
The second topic of discussion revealed many difficulties experienced by African migrants who have children with South African citizens in dealing with the Department of Home Affairs (DoHA).
Some South Africans, particularly South African women, have children with; or are married to migrant spouses. Despite these marriages, many have struggled to get documentation of the births of children born of such unions.
The members of the ADF present at the meeting agreed that this situation puts a strain on the financial resources of the parents as only the South African spouse can hold a job in such a situation while the other cannot contribute anything because they do not have a work permit or the required documents. The Dpartment is reported to be threatening South Africans who have children with non-South African nationals living in the country, and refusing to provide them with documentation even if they qualify. One member said that when he was at the DoHA, he witnessed a migrant spouse being refused documents for their children. “The Department official said that the child “must have been born in Congo”, and changed the birth place of the child.”
Kayan Leung, a lawyer from the Lawyer for Human Rights (LHR) who was present at the meeting, asked whether these marriages were recognised by the law, or if the unions were cohabitual. The responses were varied according to individuals, however the Department again was reported to be using foulplay. In some cases, parents can be granted residency while their children are not.
According to South African Law, South Africa grants citizenship to those that meet at least one of the following criteria: birth in the territory of the Republic of South Africa; or descent or naturalization.