Is This Really My Child? DNA Testing In South Africa

It will cost you, but will definitely clarify any doubt.
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Once the paternity-leave bill – adopted by the national assembly last year – is signed into law, proof will be required that fathers requesting paternity leave from their employers are indeed the babies' dads.

"Fathers who do not have their names on the child's birth certificate cannot apply for parental leave," African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) MP Cheryllyn Dudley previously told HuffPost. This will help prevent dishonesty, and also ensure that the bill "can't be used and abused".

If popular Mzansi Magic show Utatakho – which involves paternity testing – is anything to go by, in some relationships paternity testing will definitely be necessary.

We spoke to Dr Denis York, the director of Molecular Diagnostic Services (MDS) – a private laboratory in Durban that does DNA paternity testing – to give us a rundown of what parents testing for paternity can expect.

What exactly is a DNA paternity test?

DNA paternity testing involves the laboratory determination of the biological parentage of a child. All genetic markers present in a child are derived from his or her biological parents. By examining the genetic markers of the biological mother and child, one can determine which genetic markers must come from the biological father. Because one's genetic makeup remains the same throughout life, a paternity test can be performed at any age.

Apart from obvious reasons, why else is it required?

Paternity testing can be requested for a number of reasons, amongst them being:

  • For maintenance purposes e.g. if a man is paying maintenance for a child but has doubts about being the biological father or if a mother wishes to prove that a certain man is the biological father of her child or children.
  • For estate purposes i.e. the relatives of a deceased man may request testing if there is a claim against the estate by a woman alleging that the deceased man is the father of her child.
  • Babies and their parents where there may have been a mix-up soon after birth.
  • For birth certificates – Home Affairs requires a paternity test in order to change a child's surname to that of the alleged father.
  • Individuals wishing to emigrate to certain countries where one or both of their parents are living.
  • Individuals that were adopted and who are trying to confirm their biological parents.

How much can you expect to pay for the test?

The price will depend on whether one is getting tested through a court or if it is a private case, but it is R2,250 or less. This includes testing the alleged father, mother and one child. Notably, there is an extra cost for every extra child tested.

The one who pays is the one who wants to find out the paternity, right?

For private cases, when both the alleged father and the mother are involved in testing, the individual who pays will be the individual to whom the original result report is released; the other party will receive a copy as requested.

What documents need to be brought with?

Identification of each individual to be tested (birth certificate or ID book) is required. For paternity tests for non-court purposes without the mother present, an affidavit is required from the alleged father stating he is the legal guardian of the child.

What can you expect physically – is it a blood test or will samples of urine be taken?

The test requires a finger prick blood sample from each person tested. Sometimes the heel of a baby's foot is used to obtain the blood sample. A cheek swab can also be a suitable sample type.

How can I go about booking a paternity test?

You can contact any trusted lab that conducts the tests, such as MDS and they will assist you.

Before You Go