'Identity thief stole my life for 10 years'

2015-11-16 16:02
Samkelisiwe Khumalo (Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

Samkelisiwe Khumalo (Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

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Johannesburg - A woman who suffered for years after her identity was stolen fears her nightmare may never be over.

Samkelisiwe Khumalo, 35, a nurse from Empangeni in north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal, said her life changed when she lost her identity document more than 10 years ago.

She would later find out that she had accumulated more than R50 000 in debt as a result.

Khumalo said she lost her ID when she was visiting her cousin in Johannesburg in October 2001.

“At first, I didn't think anything of it. It was only later in 2002, when I realised that someone was using my identity to open up retail accounts and take bank loans," she told News24.

An emotional Khumalo described how her own investigations into the theft led her to several fraudulent accounts opened in her name.

"I went to Foschini to open an account and they told me I already owed money. I would get calls from banks, demanding that I pay loans that I knew nothing about.

"I had no control of my life. Someone had taken that away from me."

Khumalo said she later hired a lawyer to help her.

"He cost me R13 000. He managed to close some retail accounts but he could not do anything about the bank loans. My name was left in the mud.

"No one was dealing with me and my family was greatly affected because I could not help them. I was broke," she said.

But in a lucky break, an investigation led to the arrest and imprisonment of the culprit after Khumalo relayed her story to a friend working at the KwaZulu-Natal traffic department.

Undercover investigators from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) found that a woman, Nokukhanya Mbhehane, had used Khumalo's ID to obtain a drivers licence in 2010 and renewed it in 2013.

Loan agreements

Investigators also found a number of transactions including hire purchase and loan agreements which had been fraudulently entered into with various institutions in the name of Khumalo.

RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane Mbhehane said Mbhehane was sentenced to a one-year prison sentence last week for illegally obtaining a driver's licence.

But Khumalo fears that her nightmare may not be over.

She said she was worried that it may take months to convince banks that her identity was stolen.

"It's very hard to convince banks that I had no knowledge of these loans. A year's sentence is not enough for ten years of suffering. I fear she has other copies of my ID and she will continue to use it after she comes out of prison," Khumalo said.

Zwane, however, said they expected that further charges would be laid against Mbhehane for illegally entering into bank contracts using Khumalo's name.

Zwane said they were investigating several similar cases.

He said that another suspect currently on trial at Ivory Park in the east of Johannesburg was a taxi driver.

"The public is warned that the RTMC is seriously implementing anti-corruption measures across the traffic management sector in an effort to reduce the number of unqualified drivers on the roads and deal with corruption," he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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