No help for victim of identity theft

2018-01-17 13:30
Thabisile Khumalo had her identity stolen by a woman in Johannesburg.

Thabisile Khumalo had her identity stolen by a woman in Johannesburg. (Supplied )

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Thabisile Khumalo (32) fears she may never get her identity back after it was stolen by a Johannesburg woman who has racked up thousands of rands in debt since 2009.

“I don’t know what to do anymore because the Department of Home Affairs officials in Pietermaritzburg have also been unable to help even though I have repeatedly asked for them to blacklist the ID number, and issue me with a new one,” said the Howick resident.

Khumalo’s nightmare began in 2009 when she went to apply for a new identity document because the one she had was old and the black and white picture was no longer clear.

She needed a new ID to apply for a licence with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority as she had recently qualified as a security guard.

The Pietermaritzburg Home Affairs told her that a new ID had been issued to her a few months prior in Johannesburg. They issued her with a new book but the ID number remained the same.

“I told them I had never lost my ID and had never been to Johannesburg so it couldn’t have been me. I was told to go to the police station and compose an affidavit, which I did. Since then I’ve been back and forth trying to get this sorted with no success,” she said.

The identity thief has used Khumalo’s ID number to get credit from numerous clothing shops, as well as a loan from African Bank.

Khumalo became inconsolable when she spoke about how she and her two children were financially supported by her 60-year-old father, Bhekekhaya Khumalo, through his pension, as she could not apply for the child support grant. “I’ve been blacklisted and no company will hire me because of my bad credit record. I wanted to further my studies through Unisa and be a teacher, but I can’t do that with my ID still being disputed. If my father dies tomorrow, I don’t know what we will eat next month,” she said.

She has even travelled to Johannesburg to try and get the police to escort her to the identity thief’s house in Jabulani township, but they declined as no case had been opened.

Home Affairs ‘didn’t open a fraud case’

“The police told me that it was hard to track down someone with the same ID number because they also didn’t know which of us was an identity thief. 

“They said they would only be able to do something if the Department of Home Affairs opened a fraud case against the woman, but that has not happened,” Khumalo said. 

Last month she returned to Home Affairs to appeal to them to blacklist the ID number, after she received a letter of demand from one of the creditors owed by the Johannesburg woman. 

“I’m scared that one day she is going to commit a crime and I will end up in jail,” said Khumalo, adding: “But when I told this to the official at Home Affairs he told me that no one can change an ID number at a drop of the hat as if it was a phone number. Someone advised me to get a lawyer to deal with this, but I can’t afford one.” 

Spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs, Thabo Mokgola, said the matter had been referred to the provincial manager for Home Affairs in KZN to institute an investigation and uncover reasons for the delay.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  identity theft

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