File picture: Neil Baynes/Independent Media
Johannesburg - An emotional Imameleng Raphuthing, 43, from Soweto, has lost all hope that she will ever get her identity document because she has no family members to verify her legitimacy as a South African citizen.

Raphuthing has been sent from pillar to post trying to get her ID at the Orlando West Home Affairs office. She lives at the Lehae informal settlement with her six children. Ironically, Raphuthing told The Star that her eldest daughter has been able to get her ID but she has struggled to get hers for more than 20 years.

As a hawker who plies her trade by selling hats and face painting in Joburg, Raphuthing said: “I have been stopped by the police and they seized my merchandise because I had no formal identification.

“This really pains me, because every time I feel like a foreigner in my own country,” she said.

Raphuthing said she doesn’t have a birth certificate because she was born at home in Molapo, Soweto. Her mother died in 2014, and she has no family members to help her get her ID.

“I want to ask anyone from the Raphuthing family to come forward to help me get an ID. Now when I went there they said it’s a late registration, and they checked the papers that I came with and they accepted them. But they were unable to help unless I find my family older than me by 10 years,” she said.

Home Affairs spokesperson Thabo Mokgola agreed that this was a case of late registration of birth and death. “The department has put into place stringent measures to ascertain such cases to ensure that we give citizenship to those who claim to be South African,” said Mokgola.

He added: “Cases like these are not new for the immigration officers because they need to find legitimacy for these people and verify through interactions with the family and community members.”

With the verification process of late birth, Mokgola said: “The requirements include that there is verification of family members, and interviewing with community members such as school principals and church members.”

Among other issues that Raphuthing struggles with is getting her son, who is in Grade 7, registered for school. “My son in Grade 7 faces a problem because I have to register him online but I have no ID and birth certificate. This pains me because my child will be sitting at home and not going to school,” she said.

To apply for grades 1 and 8, parents in Gauteng are required to supply their details, including their ID numbers.

The Star