Suicide bid over ID stress

2018-10-19 15:29
Matric boy saved from hanging himself.

Matric boy saved from hanging himself.

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Frustrated by unexplained delays by Home Affairs in issuing his Identity Document (ID) before the start of his matric exams, an orphaned pupil this week came close to attempting suicide.

The aunt of the 17-year-old boy on Thursday said they have been sent from pillar to post by Home Affairs officials for the past five months and that no one can tell them why there are delays in obtaining the teenager’s ID.

Her name is being withheld to protect the identity of the teen.

“We have tried everything to get his ID and none of the Home Affairs officials were helpful.

“The school is also asking me about the ID and reminding us that we need it before the child starts exams on Tuesday next week,” she said.

She said that on Tuesday night at around 6.30 pm she was talking to the rest of the family about how a Home Affairs official had refused to help them in obtaining the ID and thinks that her nephew, whose parents have both died, might have not taken the news well.

“He went to his bedroom and wrote a suicide note which he left on the floor, then left the house without anyone seeing him. At around 8 pm I went to check on him and was shocked to find that he wasn’t there. I found the letter and we went to look for him outside.

“A neighbour that was driving into his yard told us that my nephew was walking down the street carrying a rope.

“We ran after him and when we found him he started crying hysterically. He was devastated.

“If it had taken us any longer to notice that he was not in the house we would be planning a funeral right now because of the incompetence of Home Affairs officials,” said the angry aunt.

She said they applied for an ID at the Pietermaritzburg Department of Home Affairs on March 29 and were sent an acknowledgement message to indicate that the department had received the ID application. The family started getting concerned after two months went by and they still had not heard anything from Home Affairs.

“We went back to Home Affairs on countless occasions to enquire about the child’s ID and had to stand in long queues only to be sent back. No one could tell us what the delay was about.”

Eventually they were able to speak to the branch manager, who gave them his contact details and promised to help them. When they called he said their application had “undergone manual verification” and he would get back to them. He never answered his phone after that.

Last week, the aunt managed to get hold of the Home Affairs provincial manager, Cyril Mncwabe, who asked her to send him proof of their ID application. She was never able to get hold of him after that.

“We are really devastated and angered about the manner in which the public servants are conducting themselves and the manner in which they are treating the public. Government officials are entrusted with the duties of serving the public and upholding Batho Pele principles but they treat the public like trash and think that they rule the world,” she said.

She said her nephew has stopped studying for his exams and refuses to eat.

LifeLine director Sinikiwe Biyela said she received a call from the “devastated” aunt reporting the boy’s distress.

“She wanted support and counselling for the boy and for the family as they were all devastated and very worried.”

Biyela said the teenager and other traumatised family members received counselling from LifeLine on Wednesday and LifeLine is currently helping the family to manage the situation.

“This kind of behaviour from the senior management of Home Affairs is appalling and completely unacceptable. If the senior managers behave in this manner what can we expect from the junior officials?

“Orphans in South Africa have lots of challenges to deal with. Why is the Department of Home Affairs adding to their stress levels?” said Biyela.

National Home Affairs spokesperson Thabo Mokgola said the matter has been escalated to head office and the head of civic services will personally contact the family.

'He can write without ID'

KZN Education Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said a pupil without an ID can sit and write all their exams.

“In the meantime, the family must try and resolve the problem as Umalusi cannot produce a matric certificate without an ID number. Having an ID is a requirement for writing final matric exams but pupils are allowed to write without it.

“The child must relax and continue with his preparations for his exams,” said Mahlambi.

Progress at last

Last month, The Witness reported that a mother was at her wit’s end as her daughter, also in matric, was still waiting for the ID they applied for in January.

The mother told The Witness on Thursday that she was “very excited” after they got the teen’s temporary ID.

A Howick woman was over the moon when she received her new ID last week after her identity was stolen by a Johannesburg woman eight years ago. 

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  home affairs

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