Answer to a question from a reader

How can I change my children's Zimbabwean birth certificate details in SA?

The short answer

There are pro bono and means-tested legal organisations who can help you.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

My children were born in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, my late husband had them documented with the wrong details. Because they are not registered properly, my children cannot inherit my assets or those I inherited from my mother. I have tried to correct their details many times but I am told I should get a lawyer because my husband has passed away and I need a witness. I cannot afford a lawyer or the costs required by the Zimbabwean Embassy to change the documentation. How can I fix this problem?

The long answer

You would need to consult a lawyer to help you correct the wrong information on your children’s birth certificates in Zimbabwe. Fortunately, there are organisations of lawyers who are prepared to help people without charging legal fees. As I don’t know which part of South Africa you are living in, I have given a list of four organisations and their contact details in different places in South Africa below:

  1. is an organisation that works with lawyers who are prepared to assist people who can’t afford a lawyer. Pro bono means “for the public good”. ProBono has three offices in South Africa: Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. These are their addresses, email addresses and telephone numbers:


1st Floor West Wing, Women’s Jail
Constitution Hill
1 Kotze Street, Braamfontein

Phone: 011 339 6080



Unit 310
3rd Floor, Cowey Park
91-123 Problem Mkhize Road
Durban 4000

Telephone: (031) 301 6178 


Cape Town:

Unit 1021, 2nd Floor
Westminster House
122 Longmarket Street (Cnr. Adderley St.)
Cape Town

Telephone: 087 470 0721 


  1. Lawyers for Human Rights;

They provide free legal services to poor and vulnerable people whose rights are being denied. Their general email is They have four offices: 

Johannesburg: 078 315 1269

Durban: 078 301 0531

Musina: 076 766 7782

Cape Town: 021 424 8561

  1. Law clinic at North-West University, Potchefstroom;

The Law Clinic provides free legal services to poor and vulnerable people in North West and Mpumalanga Provinces, at the following three addresses:


Contact person:
Ms Omphemetse Mmekoa

North-West University
Mahikeng Campus
Corner of Albert Luthuli and University Drive

Tel: (+27 18) 389-2062/2060



Contact person:
Ms Saritha Marais

Main Building F5
North-West University
Potchefstroom Campus
11 Hoffman Street

Tel: (+27 18) 299-1568



Contact person:
Mr Mqakama Radebe

Building 11B G16
North-West University   
Vanderbijlpark Campus
Hendrik Van Eck Blvd

Tel: (+27 16) 910-3483


  1. Legal Aid;

Legal Aid is a means-tested organisation that must assist people who can’t afford a lawyer. Here are their details:

  • Legal Aid Advice Line (Toll-free): 0800 110 110

  • Please-Call-Me number: 079 835 7179

If you get an appointment with any of these organisations, be sure to take all the information and documents that you have about your children’s birth certificates.

Wishing you the best,

Answered on March 23, 2022, 3:48 p.m.

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Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.