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Durban - A former Home Affairs official is at his wits’ end after having been told by the department that his identity document has been duplicated.
The problem remains unresolved after 14 months of waiting and four visits to have his fingerprints taken.
“I am nobody. I cannot travel nor make bank transactions. I cannot claim from (the) provident fund. I am blacklisted for debts I am not liable for. I have received letters of demand from Markhams, Jet, Ackermans and Foschini. I am not an account holder of any of these stores,” said Umbilo resident Herbert John Hook.
The 59-year-old told the Daily News on Thursday that he had been employed at the Department of Interior, the forerunner to the Department of Home Affairs, in Durban in the 1970s.
“I worked as a senior controller in the passport section. My passport has expired. When I applied for a renewal, I was told fingerprints could not match my ID number. I cannot get back to Mozambique where I work as a fitter,” he said.
“In 14 months they have taken my fingerprints four times. They made me register as if I am a newborn baby. They asked about my parents who passed away many years ago. It was depressing.”
Without an official ID, Hook said he had been forced to rely on his daughter for support.
“I and my wife share a one-bedroom flat belonging to my daughter. There is also a seven-month-old granddaughter living in the house. I know it is illegal to squat like that, but thanks to the owner for his kindness. I am buried alive.”
Fed up with Home Affairs, Hook has posted a comment on the East Coast Radio Newswatch Facebook page on a topic about “White Widow” Samantha Lewthwaite, who is alleged to have been involved in the Kenya terrorist attack and who is reported to have acquired a South African passport fraudulently from Home Affairs in Durban.
“Beginning to wonder if they did not sell my ID… Home Affairs politely duplicated me and have now withdrawn my ID that I have had for 59 years and want to give a new number,” he posted on the page.
He said he had received letters from the SA Revenue Service, but could not do anything without an ID.
Hook took out a wallet containing Mozambican banknotes: “I am only worth 800 meticals, which is a lousy R214. This is for me to pay a third party when I get to Amatola in Mozambique,” he said.
“I want my ID back. I want to be me again,” he pleaded.
KZN’s acting provincial manager at Home Affairs, Albert Matsaung, confirmed that Hook’s identity had been duplicated and said the matter was being investigated.
“An investigation would verify who is the person being duplicated by matching fingerprints of both ID holders. After that the law will then take its course. When the matter is finalised a letter would then be issued to say that the person has been duplicated.”
Matsaung advised citizens to visit Home Affairs to check if their IDs had been duplicated to prevent fraudsters gaining access to personal details.
“We even published the list of people with duplicated ID numbers. (The new) smart card system would help to stamp out fraud in the system.”