Teen hurt by altered ID photo

2013-05-11 00:00

A TEENAGER born with one functional eye was astonished when he received a new ID book with a digitally doctored eye inserted into his photograph.

Shuveer Girran’s ID photo was crudely altered, allegedly by someone in Home Affairs.

But the department refuses to own up. Local and national offices are blaming each other for the error.

The 17-year-old Grade 11 pupil at Howick High said he was born with an underdeveloped left eye, which has never opened.

On March 12, Home Affairs officials went to his school as part of a drive to help older pupils apply for ID documents.

“The process went well and I paid the R25 fee. When my photos were attached to the application form they were fine. It was me. I was shocked on Wednesday when I went to fetch my ID from school. They made a mockery of me because they had placed a second eye where there was no eye. I felt humiliated and demoralised by this,” said Shuveer.

His father, Vigan Girran, said his son was deeply hurt.

He contacted the school and was told that government officials had handled the entire process, including taking photos.

“When my son came home that day he said, ‘Mommy, look at my ID photo, they have disfigured me,’ and he cried. Apart from what they have done, my son will have difficulty registering for Grade 12 if this is not sorted out immediately.

“He won’t be able to apply for his learner’s licence and if he were to take a flight somewhere, he would be stopped at the airport and maybe arrested because what’s on the ID is not a reflection of his face.”

Girran was referred to Pietermaritzburg Home Affairs manager Thamsanqa Luthuli.

He claimed Luthuli became arrogant, a charge the manager denied.

Luthuli said he was in the dark as to how the image had been doctored. Shown the photograph by Weekend Witness, Luthuli said: “This is a very serious matter.”

He referred the query to Pretoria, saying all ID books were made there.

“We only help with filling in application forms and taking ID photos, and all that information is sent to Pretoria to be processed.

“Our photographers know the rules. They know that if an applicant has a disability or any kind of deformity or birth marks on their faces, no one has a right to try and amend those. In any case, our photographers use ‘instant’ cameras so they can’t tamper with the photos,” he said.

Luthuli acknowledged that Shuveer would have difficulties using his ID and promised to help him obtain a new document while the matter was under investigation in Pretoria.

But Home Affairs national spokesperson Robela Mogane said his office would not take responsibility because it worked with information provided by the office where the application was made. Mogane said the local office did quality checks.

“You can’t say it’s our fault because we produce IDs based on information provided to us.

“We receive the application with all the details and two ID photos. One photo is kept and another one is laminated onto the ID.

“We will investigate the matter.”

Democratic Alliance home affairs shadow minister Manny de Freitas said: “They are mocking him like this. This should be rectified immediately.”

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