A mistaken identity

Fundiswa Sigwili, a mother of one, is struggling to get her ID as she is registered as a male with the Department of Home Affairs. PHOTOS: Velani Ludidi
Fundiswa Sigwili, a mother of one, is struggling to get her ID as she is registered as a male with the Department of Home Affairs. PHOTOS: Velani Ludidi

Home Affairs has launched an investigation into a Masakhane Informal Settlement woman being registered as a male.

According to Fundiswa Sigwili, her birth certificate information has prevented her from applying for an identity document from the department.

“I grew up with male identification on my birth certificate, and have tried to have the error rectified by the department, but I was sent from pillar to post in my efforts,” she said.

Sigwili’s father applied for an abridged birth certificate for his daughter just before his death in 2011.

“When I was of age to apply for an ID, I went to the Department of Home Affairs in the Eastern Cape, but was always told I need to change my gender,” she said.

“I think my mother made a mistake on the application form when registering me for a clinic card.”

Singwili hasn’t finished high school and is struggling to do so and get a decent job. “I tried working on the farms, but after about a month I was informed I needed an ID because hiring an undocumented person is against the law,” she said.

“The shack I live in will also not be electrified during the City of Cape Town’s electrification project in the area as I do not have the correct documentation. I can only be part of the project if I register it in someone else’s name.”

As a result of Sigwili not having an identity document, she also cannot apply for a social grant for her two-year-old son. “I have my clinic card, and usually show officials the mistake,” she said. “My life is on hold because of a gender that I cannot relate to. I need help from the Department of Home Affairs.”

Nomzabalazo Menzi has tried to assist her friend in acquiring an ID. She said: “After we met at work, she informed me of her dilemma, and we both went to apply for the ID. But she was told she didn’t have the necessary documents this required. I hope and pray she will receive the help she needs, because there is no life without an ID especially if you are uneducated.”

Home Affairs department spokesperson Thabo Mokgola says the department is investigating the matter.

“I have brought the matter to the attention of the provincial manager of Home Affairs for an investigation to be conducted. He will delegate officials to contact the client with a view to resolving the matter.”

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