On 1 July this year, the government changed the pass laws. The government said what everyone has said for many years. They said, “Hamba dompas.” But now people are worried. They do not know what to do.
Is the Dompas really dead? Learn and Teach asked the Black Sash because they understand the dompas laws better than anyone.
Sheena Duncan of the Black Sash said, “The new laws are not clear and they are very difficult to understand. It will be a long time before everyone knows how the laws work. We think that people can try to get identity books. But if they have problems, they can come to us. We will try to help them.”
WHAT THE NEW PASS LAWS MEAN FOR YOU
The government has divided people. There are new laws for people who live in the towns, on the farms and in the homelands that are not independent. And there are new laws for the people who come from the ‘independent’ homelands – Ciskei, Transkei, Bophuthatswana and Venda.
Life will be easier for most people but much more difficult for people from the Ciskei, Transkei, Bophuthatswana and Venda.
THE NEW IDENTITY BOOK
If you live in town, or on the farms or in one of the homelands that are not independent, you can get a new identity book. Everyone will have the same identity book, no matter what their colour is. And everyone will have their fingerprints taken.
You can look for work anywhere you want to. You do not have to get a permit. When you find work, your boss does not have to register you. And to find work, you do not have to show that you have a place to stay.
People from the farms or from the homelands that are not ‘independent’ can come to town. You do not need to get a stamp or permit to be there.
You can now work for yourself in town. You do not have to work for someone else. You can start your own business if you want to. You can also buy a house or a site wherever you want to. You do not have to have Section 10 (1) (a) or (b) like before.
But you can still have the names of all the people who live in your house on your house permit. Or you can have a lodger’s permit. But you can still find work without a house permit.
If you have problems getting a lodger’s permit, or putting your children’s names on your house permit, you can get help from an advice office.
Under the old pass laws the government tried to stop people from coming to town through work. The government said people could only work in town with permission. Now the government may try to stop people from coming to town through houses.
The police can arrest people who do not have ‘proper’ houses. They will arrest people who build their own sharks. And they will arrest people who live outside the townships without permission.
HOW TO ASK FOR THE NEW IDENTITY BOOK
You can take your reference book and two passport photographs to any office of the Department of Home Affairs, the old Bantu Commissioners’ offices, or the Magistrate’s offices if you live in a small town.
They can give the new Identity book to everyone who is over sixteen years. You must not worry about what stamps you have in your reference book. And you do not need to take any house or lodger’s permit with you.
They will give you a new identity number. Then they will tell you when you can fetch your new book.
If you are married, take your marriage certificate with you. Take your husband or wife with you so that both of you can ask for your new books at the same time.
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A REFERENCE BOOK
If you do not have a reference book, you can take a birth certificate or baptismal certificate. If you have a marriage certificate or a driver’s licence, you can take them too. You will also need two passport photos. They do not need your house permit or lodger’s permit.
Some people who asked for new identity books had problems. If you have problems, get help at an advice office. Often the people who are giving the new books, do not understand the new laws themselves.
PEOPLE FROM THE ‘INDEPENDENT’ HOMELANDS
The Black Sash say that there is a lot of confusion about these people.
If you are Venda, Tswana or Xhosa speaking, and you have section 10 (1)(a) then you can get a new South African identity book. If you have section 10 (1)(b) you might have problems if your family is in one of the ‘independent’ homelands.
CITIZENSHIP AND THE ID
PEOPLE WHO CAME TO SOUTH AFRICA BEFORE INDEPENDENCE
If you were born in Ciskei, Transkei, Bophuthatswana or Venda BUT you were living in South Africa when your homeland got ‘independence’ AND you have lived in South Africa since that time, then you can apply to get your South African citizenship back. It does not matter if you have a homeland passport. You can get a new identity book. The independence dates are:-
Transkei 26th October 1976 Bophuthatswana 6th December 1977 Venda 13th September 1979 Ciskei 4th December 1981
Your children can also get their South African citizenship back, even if they were born in an ‘independent’ homeland. They might get it easily if they were not living in South Africa be fore 1 July 1986.
PEOPLE WHO CAME TO SOUTH AFRICA AFTER INDEPENDENCE
You can also get South African citizenship if you live permanently in South Africa and you have a stamp in your passport to say that you can live in South Africa. AND you came to South Africa after independence but before 1st July 1986. AND you have lived in South Africa for one whole year before you ask for your identity book AND you have lived in South Africa for another four years in the eight years before you ask for your Identity book.
But if you came to South Africa and you lived here without permission, you cannot get a South African identity book. Now people from the ‘independent’ homelands are the same as people from Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana.
PEOPLE WHO COME TO SOUTH AFRICA AFTER 1ST JULY 1986
When you come to South Africa now, you can get a work permit. But the Black Sash says it will be very difficult for people to get work permits. They also say that bosses will give jobs to people who don’t need work permits,
just because it is easier for the bosses. People who come to South Africa after the 1st of July will only be able to apply for citizenship if they are first given permanent residence permits. A permit to work in South Africa is not a permanent residence permit.
The Black Sash says that people from the ‘independent’ homelands will have problems when they ask for South African identity books. But it also says that most of the people living in the ‘independent’ homelands now, will never get their South African . citizenship back.
“The government says the people are now free to work and live where they want to,” says Sheena Duncan. “But we say that there is no real freedom until everyone who belongs to South Africa – and we mean all the people from the’ independent’ homelands can live and work where they choose”.