Home Affairs problem stories

2008-02-29 00:00

Earlier this week The Witness published a lead story about a Pietermaritzburg man, Wanda Ndlovu, who has approached the High Court for help regarding a three-year battle to obtain his identity document from the Department of Home Affairs. Ndlovu, whose leg was amputated after he was hit by a car in 1994, is asking the court for an order reviewing and setting aside the department's failure to issue him with his identity document, and ordering that it be issued within 30 days. Ndlovu is being assisted by the Legal Aid Board. We publish readers' responses to the article.

Driven to legal action

I am responding to your lead article in The Witness of February 27. Below is an e-mail I am forwarding to you detailing the problems one of our employees has had regarding efforts to obtain his identity document from the Pietermaritzburg Home Affairs branch.

I personally got involved on July 30, 2007, on his behalf, accompanying him to Home Affairs specifically to meet with Mrs Nyokana, after having made a telephonic appointment.

The meeting did not start well and she was very evasive and defensive, and we got into a shouting match in the general hall, which ended with me telling my employee, Thabani Ndlovu, to leave. I said I would take this up via alternative avenues (legal action).

She was in ear-shot when I said this and she then quickly did an about-turn and ushered us into her office where a team of three officials quickly and promptly assisted us in completing another application.

The R15 was paid, photos were taken and she assured me it would now take the normal six-to-eight weeks lead time.

Well, we are still waiting some seven months down the line, with nothing to show for it except a national call centre reference number and a lot of frustration. All this has led me to seek assistance from Lawyers for Human Rights (see the letter below) who are now assisting Thabani and me.

Thabani and I recently attended a meeting with the Lawyers for Human Rights, where we spoke to a very helpful woman named Nesira. She informed us that a recent judgment in the High Court forces legal institutions to deal with the Department of Home Affairs directly in these matters for 45 days before being allowed to institute legal proceedings against Home Affairs.

Home Affairs seems to be buying more time to deal with all its endemic problems.

I thought I must respond to your article as there are so many parallels with Wanda Ndlovu's case and Thabani's.

Mark Slaughter


The letter sent to lawyers by Mark Slaughter

THE following is a copy of the letter that Slaughter sent to Nesira at Lawyers for Human Rights: I am e-mailing you on behalf of one of my employees, Thabani Andrias Ndlovu, who has been trying to obtain his identity document for approximately the last five years without success, supposedly due to a duplication issue.

The two of us went to the Pietermaritzburg Home Affairs Department and made a fifth application on July 30, 2007, and after a heated debate with one of the supervisors, a Mrs Nyokana, we were eventually seen to and another application was quickly and efficiently performed, with two other officials assisting us in Mrs Nyokana's office.

I have been constantly phoning for an update on his identity document, but keep getting told it is sitting in the Pretoria duplications department, with the last movement on the system dated November 2, 2007.

I have subsequently lodged a case via the national call centre, Home Affairs Pretoria. Case reference number 0801/016/451 refers. This was done about three to four weeks ago and I have had no feedback from this channel.

I called the national number last week and was told it is still being investigated.

I was also given another reference number by a Mrs Hartsly of the Pietermaritzburg Home Affairs office, 000269 47791. This was prior to phoning the national call centre and I think it was the reference number to be used on the Home Affairs website to check progress online, but was of no real use to me.

Thabani has stamped, receipted copies of his numerous applications, and is getting increasingly frustrated that he cannot obtain his green bar-coded identity document, as am I.

No driver's licence without ID

Some 10 or so years ago when we were required to change our driver's licences to the card type I was told at the Mkondeni Test Station I could not use my original ID and needed a bar-coded document before they would issue a card licence.

I applied for a new ID at the time (Pietermaritzburg Home Affairs). After about a year my ID had still not been issued. I went back to the Home Affairs office in Pietermaritzburg and was told that no application had been received. I applied again.

I then gave up until April 2007 when I went to Passport Centre and applied. By August I had still not received an ID document and went back to Passport Centre. I was again told that Home Affairs had no record of an application and through Passport Centre applied again.

On February 20 I eventually collected my new ID from Passport Centre. The date of issue on the ID was November 27.

Now it was off to the Mkondeni Test Station (February 22) to get my new card-type licence, armed with the original ID document and the new ID document. I went through the eye test and being finger-printed only to be told that a new licence could not be issued. However, if I applied to 'their' head office - I am unsure whether this is the Road Traffic Inspectorate head office or the Department of Transport's head office - they (the head office) would consider issuing me with a card licence, and if not I would have to redo both my learner's and driver's tests.

I now question why I should go to all this trouble, just because of the inefficiency of the Home Affairs Department.

Kevin Leonard

Documents mislaid

Hats off to Wanda Ndlovu! In all my years of frustration in dealing with Home Affairs and a huge 'follow-up' telephone bill, I never thought of approaching the Legal Aid Board!

When I employed my domestic worker in 2000, I noticed that she appeared older than her identity document number which shows a 1967 birth date.

Florence Thembisele Bhengu should be at least 10 years older than indicated when comparing her age with that of her oldest living child at that time and this was verified by the District Surgeon.

I have been involved in obtaining the correct documentation on three occasions since 2004 to have her birth date amended. These documents have been mislaid by the department and our last attempt was made in June 2007.

We too were told to inquire monthly after the first three months, but nothing has happened even after we contacted Pretoria.

Then her daughter-in-law, Nobuhle Mkhize, was murdered in April 2007, and in order to obtain UIF death benefits for the two grandchildren, Nokuthula Mkhize and Sboniso Mkhize, Florence was told to apply for unabridged birth certificates for them. This was done on July 19, 2007.

Despite constant checking, nothing has transpired, and had it not been for the loving but financially constrained care of the grandparents, the children would have died long ago of starvation.

Then there is the case of an ex-employee of ours, Mfaniswa Ngcobo, who was jailed for murder. Having served his time, he came to us for assistance as his ID was mislaid by the prison and he was desperately looking for employment.

He applied in September 2007 and is still waiting.

These are just a few of thousands of cases which need to be rectified.

C. Morris

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