17 October 2023

Join our team in 2024!

The Centre for Child Law (CCL) is seeking a driven candidate legal practitioner with the credentials and a proven passion for public interest law and social justice work.

The Centre for Child Law, based at the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Law, is a child rights strategic litigation organisation, registered with the Legal Practice Council as a law clinic. CCL has built an enduring reputation for upholding and fulfilling children’s rights over the last 25 years through litigation, research, legal education, law reform, community engagement and advocacy.




  • An LLB or equivalent degree.
  • A demonstrated interest in human rights and social justice work.
  • A strong interest in research as a component of legal work.
  • Good oral and written communication skills in English.
  • Proficiency in other South African official languages will be an advantage.
  • Proficiency in MS Office.




  • Assisting in strategic litigation cases;
  • Research in support of advocacy and litigation activities;
  • Conducting field research in communities;
  • Drafting pleadings and legal opinions;
  • Assisting in the drafting of research reports;
  • Providing input into draft policies and legislation;
  • Preparing documents for, and appearing in court;
  • Liaison with clients, counsel, and partners; and
  • Representing the Centre for Child Law in civil society forums.


To apply, please merge and submit the following documents in PDF format:

  1. A cover letter motivating why you are a suitable candidate for the position;
  2. A detailed CV demonstrating that you have the necessary qualifications, skills and experience for this position as well as the names and contact details of at least 2 references;
  3. Certified copies of qualifications(degrees/diplomas); and
  4. A written sample of no longer than 5 pages which need not be a stand-alone piece but may form part of a larger writing project such as an LLB final year dissertation. (Please do not send the full dissertation).


Submit your application and upload your documents here  or send an email to

Individuals from previously disadvantaged populations are particularly encouraged to apply.  The Centre reserves the right not to appoint if suitable candidates are not found.

CLOSING DATE: 10 November 2023 (Late and incomplete applications will not be accepted.)





Joint press statement: Children’s Institute in court tomorrow as amicus curiae in case against Department of Home Affairs, to highlight the severe harms to children when parents’ IDs are wrongly “blocked”

19 September 2023

Joint press statement:
Children’s Institute in court tomorrow as amicus curiae in the case against the Department of Home Affairs, to highlight the severe harm to children when parents’ IDs are wrongly “blocked”.

The Children’s Institute (CI) at the University of Cape Town, represented by the Centre for Child Law (CCL), will on Wednesday 20 September and Thursday 21 September provide evidence as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) to the Pretoria High Court, that highlights the harsh consequences for children whose parents’ IDs have been “blocked” by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA).

Parents with blocked IDs are unable to register their children’s births or to help them get their own IDs. This leaves children undocumented for years, infringing on their rights to a name, nationality, and identity. The CI’s evidence shows that undocumented children face a significant risk of being excluded from receiving social grants and attending school, even when they are legally entitled to this. Consequently, DHA’s practice of blocking IDs also limits children’s basic socio-economic rights.
The CI is asking the court to protect the best interests of children by making an order that will provide systemic relief not only for the adults affected, but also the interests of the children who are impacted.
Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) is representing over 100 people in this court challenge. LHR’s court application asks the court to declare DHA’s conduct as unlawful and unconstitutional, and seeks an order to unblock the IDs. An ID is blocked when an ID number is flagged because it is tainted by an administrative error, or because of suspected fraud or misrepresentation. Affected people must then submit extensive documents to show citizenship or that they are entitled to the ID in question. They must also provide biometric data and participate in interviews held by an immigration officer, sometimes involving witnesses. As LHR explains, many cases remain unresolved because:

  • Some people cannot produce all the required evidence, especially those with unregistered births or parents who were unregistered (mainly due to inadequate civil registration records for black South Africans pre-1994); and
  • Despite DHA’s claim of a six to eight week investigation period, the majority of affected people experience excessive delays, often waiting for years for a resolution.

The CI’s case studies “The CI’s affidavits include case studies of four mothers who are South African citizens whose IDs have been blocked, resulting in their children’s births going unregistered for years,” explains Mbonisi Nyathi, a Legal Researcher at the CI. “The children have suffered being excluded from social grants in early childhood – the period when they need it most; along with delays in being admitted to school, being refused place at school, and being excluded from school programmes like access to free uniforms and participating in sport.”

The CI, through its legal services project, has over the past five years been helping parents/caregivers of children without birth certificates to get these documents, and have identified certain categories of children and parents/caregivers who are more likely to struggle to get birth certificates and/or ID cards. These include children whose mothers do not yet have her own ID, children in the care of unmarried fathers, abandoned or orphaned children in the care of relatives, and children whose

mothers’ IDs have been “marked” or “blocked” by DHA. Due to the block on theìr mothers’ IDs, the children cannot get birth certificates and/or ID cards until the block has been removed by DHA.
Over 80% of at least 500,000 children without birth certificates are South African citizens
Using the General Household Survey and National Income Dynamics Survey (NIDS) data, the CI estimated that in 2017 there were about at least half a million (500,000) children in South Africa without birth certificates. In 2023, we believe that this number is likely to have increased significantly due to DHA offering fewer services in 2020 and 2021 during the COVID-19 period. The CI’s analysis of the profile of the children without birth certificates revealed that over 80% were likely South African citizens. The Department of Basic Education’s data, tabled by the DHA in its answering affidavit, shows that in 2022 there were 1,1 million learners attending public schools in South Africa without documents and at least 73% are SA citizens.
“The Constitution establishes the best interest of the child as a self-standing right, as well as the principle crucial to the interpretation of all other rights. The case against the DHA shows that there has been no consideration for the best interest of the children in the process of blocking the parents’ ID documents. The practice of ID blocking stands to be found unconstitutional on that basis alone,” explains Liesl Muller, Senior Attorney at the Centre for Child Law.
DHA’s processes must be just and fair
Our evidence shows that children’s births can remain unregistered for many years due to DHA blocking the IDs of their mothers without following a just administrative procedure, and ensuring that investigations into administrative errors by DHA, suspected misrepresentation or suspected fraud are completed timeously.
The evidence from the CI also shows that mothers only become aware of their IDs being blocked when they try to give notice of their children’s birth at DHA. There is no communication from DHA notifying them that their IDs have been blocked before this. In addition to this injustice, DHA does not provide written reasons before or after the blocking the ID, and there is also no prescribed form to lodge an inquiry or to start an investigation.

We do not know how many children are affected by DHA’s ID blocking practice. DHA revealed in 2020, in response to a Parliamentary question, that there were over 800,000 adults with blocked IDs. In May 2023, likely in response to the LHR’s application, DHA agreed to unblock 1,4 million IDs, due to not being a high security risk, leaving 700,000 still blocked. Each of these adults with their blocked IDs will likely have one or more children adversely affected by the block. We have asked DHA to provide statistics on how many children are linked in the National Population Register to these blocked adults so that we can get a better idea of the size of the challenge.

The relief that the CI is seeking from the court is child specific:

  • A declaration that the practice of blocking IDs violates the child’s right to have their best interests considered paramount, the right to a name and a nationality from birth, and the right to equality and dignity:
  • The DHA should not be allowed to refuse the registration of a child’s birth, based on their parent’s ID being blocked; and
  • DHA should also not be allowed to deny an ID number and South African citizenship to a child whose parent has a blocked ID. Instead, the child’s case should be assessed independently and following a fair administrative process – including providing the child personally or through a representative with written reasons and the opportunity to be heard, and their views to be considered.


To arrange an interview, contact:
Leanne Jansen-Thomas, Children’s Institute Communications Specialist 

079 4949 411





FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                    6 SEPTEMBER 2023

Journalism has again shined a spotlight on the gross children’s rights violations perpetuated by the Department of Basic Education (“the Department”). In a Carte Blanche episode which aired on 3 September 2023, entitled ‘Stealing from the disabled’ about a school for children with disabilties in the Eastern Cape, the anchor opens with the words “…it is certainly not meant for children…” This shocking story reveals the lived realities of children with disabilities housed at  in Mthatha, Eastern Cape. Appalling conditions in the hostels, along with accounts of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse are recorded alongside detached responses from the provincial department. The school and the Department are not only failing these vulnerable children, but they are also central to the violation of these children’s rights.

The school does not have running water, the toilets are broken, and the children sleep on brick-slab beds. The school hostel accommodates children with physical and intellectual disabilities, who are between the ages of 6 and 12 years. By virtue of their intersectional needs stemming from childhood and disability, the children at Ikhwezi Lokusa require special care. It appeared that approximately three care workers take care of forty children per shift and there is a time interval during the change of shifts where the children are left completely unattended and must fend for themselves. That includes bathing in cold water, older children bathing the younger children, moving from wheelchairs to the broken toilet seats, crawling on the floor in search for a secluded place to change their own diapers. The expose does not even cover if and what quality of education these children are receiving. Regardless of the answer, the conditions in the hostel will invariably affect the ability of the child to receive quality education.

These children’s rights to human dignity, equality, education, appropriate alternative care, and their right to have their best interests considered paramount, are grossly violated on a daily basis. The situation and condition that the children are in poses several risks to the children, including their right to be protection from degradation. The Constitution is crystal clear that the best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child. The situation at Ikhwezi Lokusa is far from being in the best interests of those children, the living conditions are not conducive for children’s health, well-being, and development.

The Guidelines for the Provision of Boarding Facilities in Public Ordinary Schools do not make provision for special schools and resource centres or cater to high level of care that children with multiple disabilities, similar to those at Ikhwezi Lokusa who have intellectual and physical disabilities. The DBE published its Guidelines to Ensure Quality Education and Support in Special School Resource Centres which are meant to serve as a benchmark for the functioning of special schools and resource centres, and also includes a section on the functioning of hostels. The Guidelines are wholly insufficient, vague and do not create instructive, binding and enforceable obligations on the DBE. Nonetheless, it is irrefutable that all children, including children with intellectual disabilities have an immediately realizable right to basic education that the state is obliged to provide, per the Cape Town High Court in Western Cape Forum for Intellectual Disability v Government of the Republic of South Africa 2011 (5) SA 87 (WCC). The state further has obligations in terms of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Ikhwezi Lokusa is not the only instance where the Department of Basic Education has failed children with disabilities:

  • In 2018 three learners died in a fire at a Northwest school for deaf learners. The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) released a report and made recommendations to the Department. None of the recommendations have been implemented 5 years later.
  • In the Northern Cape, the SAHRC has been reaching out to the Department for the last 4 years regarding the fact that children with disabilities is Upington have no access to schools. There has been no answer. CCL sent a follow up to the Northern Cape provincial department and the Minister in August 2023, asking them to respond by 11 September 2023. So far there has been no response.

Children in the Eastern Cape face similar issues to those in the Northern Cape and other provinces: The Department of Basic Education has wholly failed to make education available to learners with disabilities. They are supposed to be able to attend full-service schools (designated by the Department to accommodate children with disabilities) but such schools are not equipped to accommodate even those with very low accommodation needs, increasing the demand for special needs schools of which there are very few. This means that often children must be placed in hostels far away from the protection of their parents, leaving them vulnerable to abuse in situations such as at Ikhwezi Lokusa, where the Department exercises no oversight.

We call on the SAHRC to exercise its powers in terms of section 13 of the SAHRC Act to investigate and assist the children and their families to seek redress for the egregious violations of human rights.

We call on the Department of Education to investigate and intervene immediately at Ikhwezi Lokusa School, to lay criminal charges against the responsible persons, and to take disciplinary actions against the responsible staff at the school.

We call on the Minister of Basic Education to issue an apology to all children with disabilities for the Department’s failure to provide safe and equitable access to education We also call on the Minister to immediately provide norms and standards for full service and special schools, and to update existing guidelines to make full provision for the needs of children with disabilities.

The Centre for Child Law is engaged in advocacy and is planning litigation to protect and enforce the rights of children with disabilities which have been severely neglected over the many years since their rights have been enshrined in our constitution.




For enquiries contact:

Stanley Malematja, Attorney

Tel: 012 420 4502