'Dead' woman thrilled to be alive again with new ID number

People wait at the Department of Home Affairs. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)
People wait at the Department of Home Affairs. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

A woman who found out that she had been declared dead is extremely relieved to be "alive" again after being issued with a new ID number.

Kubashnee Kalicharan (née Govender), 37, from Johannesburg, was told she was "deceased" when she applied for a loan last year, News24 reported.

Her namesake, Kubashnee Govender from Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, died from kidney failure about three years ago.

Kalicharan is originally from Durban, in the same province.

Through some administrative blunder, the two women shared the same ID number, resulting in Home Affairs declaring Kalicharan dead when Govender died.

On Wednesday, Kalicharan was finally issued a new ID number after months of emails, phone calls and visits to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA).

"I can't tell you how relieved I am," Kalicharan told News24 on Friday. "The past few months have been very hectic."

READ: 'Dead' woman calls News24: 'Please tell Home Affairs I'm alive'

Kalicharan and her husband, who are married in community of property, couldn't buy a house or car. She could also not vote in the elections on May 8. 

Life back on track

With her new ID number, Kalicharan can now apply for an ID card and get her life back on track. "Then I have to go to the bank to change my details, I have to go to SARS, my insurance companies... so there's a lot of things that need to happen, it might take a few weeks to sort out."

According to a DHA official, who did not want to be named, the department mainly deals with two types of ID number duplications: where two or more people share an ID number or where one person has multiple ID numbers. 

Many of the duplications can be attributed to administrative and system errors, but fraud is another contributor. 

"Identity theft is quite common. Especially ID numbers of children under 16, whose fingerprints are not on the system yet, are sometimes fraudulently obtained by foreigners."

Registration of babies' births is also exploited by fraudsters, who would use several family members to register the birth of one child separately, in order to obtain multiple child grants. Deaths are also falsely registered in order to claim from insurance. 

Same problem? Here's what you should do

According to the DHA official, the first thing to do once you become aware that your ID number has been duplicated, is to report it to a police station and get a case number. 

The next step is to visit a DHA office where you will be required to complete forms and provide as much information as possible: An affidavit, birth certificate, a copy of your ID book as well as of your mother's ID book. Any "proof" of your existence must be submitted, such as clinic cards and copies of qualifications. 

These documents are then verified at the DHA's specialist office in Pretoria, where the case is investigated and, ultimately, resolved.

For Kalicharan, to be "alive" again is a huge relief. "I put so much pressure on them. I emailed every day. I don't have the words to describe how grateful I am." 

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