Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi has ordered his department to urgently comply with a November court order which would allow a minor child to qualify for an R8m overseas inheritance.
TimesLIVE on Friday reported that the girl stood to lose out on the money because home affairs had refused to comply with a court order to amend her birth certificate.
The order was granted in November last year. The attorneys acting for the girl’s mother have launched an urgent application in the Pietermaritzburg high court, seeking to declare the minister and director-general in contempt and putting them on terms to say why they should not be jailed for 30 days or fined.
The child, who hails from a rural area in KwaZulu-Natal, is embroiled in an international inheritance battle for the estate of a wealthy German woman — the mother of deceased Unisa law professor Hans Schulze.
Schulze was involved in a five-year relationship with the child’s mother and, just before he died from cancer early last year, they married in a civil ceremony.
Motsoaledi said in a statement on Friday night that he had “learnt with anger” that officials in his department had shown a “flagrant disregard of a court order”.
“The minister believes that the mother of the minor child ought not to have been forced to approach the courts of law in the first place. Minister Motsoaledi instructed the officials of the department to comply with the court order … amend the birth certificate of the minor child forthwith.
“Indeed, the birth certificate has been amended and the mother of the child has been informed accordingly,” the department said in the statement.
The minister would “reach out” to the girl and her mother to apologise for “the manner in which she was treated by the officials at the Centurion home affairs offices”.
“The minister views the conduct of the officials of the department in this incident to be totally unacceptable and falling far too short of standards set by the constitution and policies of government. He has given the department two weeks to conclude an investigation into the conduct of the officials … and the failure to comply with the court order. Following this investigation, disciplinary steps will be taken,” the statement said.
Motsoaledi added: “Laziness, treating members of the public with disdain and failure to uphold the law have no place in such a crucial department charged with the constitutional and statutory responsibility to issue documents that empower and changes the lives of people.”