Masibulele Soboyisi with the documents required by Home Affairs in order to fix his ID number, which is still wrong. Photo: Supplied
Masibulele Soboyisi 26, wrote matric in 2015. But he still hasn’t received his matric results because his ID says he was born in 2002.

This would mean that when he wrote his grade 12 he was 13, even though he was 22.

Soboyisi, from Kologa village in Lady Frere in the Eastern Cape Lady Frere, said he had tried everything to get his ID number corrected but the Department of Home Affairs in Queenstown and in Lady Frere had both failed him.

“My life is on hold and there’s nothing I can do about it, thanks to Home Affairs,” said Soboyisi.

According to his mother, Notheko, he was born on 8 July 1993.

She told GroundUp that in the 1990s clinic cards were used to record a child’s age.

“In 2002 we were told about birth certificates that came out with an ID number. Schools were encouraging parents to apply for the birth certificates,” she said.

She said she applied for Masibulele’s birth certificate at Queenstown Home Affairs using a letter from his primary school because she had lost his clinic card. “Most children here were using letters from their schools to apply for birth certificates,” she said.

Notheko said she was shocked when Masibulele’s birth certificate came back stating that he was only a few months old.

“I quickly went back to Home Affairs to inform them about the mistake they made. It was still in 2002. I was given a form to take to the school for the school principal to fill in stating Masibulele’s age. They said I should also bring a letter from the hospital where I gave birth, and I got the letter.”

She said she sent all the requested documents to Home Affairs but still the ID number came back the same.

“Again I went back to them. It was already 2003. I told them the ID number on the birth certificate was still the same. Again I was sent back to the school with another form for the school principal to fill in. I filled in the form and took it back to them. Glen Grey hospital where I gave birth also gave me another maternity letter, but after a few months the birth certificate came and nothing was changed,” said Notheko.

“If I remember correctly, I visited Home Affairs in Queenstown more than four times and there was no change,” she said.

She said the last time she visited Home Affairs in Queenstown, officials sent her back with her documents and told her to bring the clinic card, even though she had told them several times that she had lost it. “I told them there was a letter from the hospital but they refused to take it.”

She said she decided to change the Home Affairs office she was using and apply for another birth certificate in Lady Frere. But that didn’t work either.

“I do not know how many times I went to Home Affairs in Lady Frere. Officials told me to bring a letter from his primary school, a maternity letter, affidavits of other children who grew up with my son, but that did not help. Each time I would go to Home Affairs I would hope that they would assist us, but until today they have failed to help my son,” said Notheko.

She said after so many attempts to help her son get a correct ID number she eventually stopped.

Masibulele said that in 2015 he had decided to take matters into his own hands, trying to fix his ID number.

“I was doing grade 12 and needed a correct ID number to write my exams. I would miss classes going to Home Affairs in Lady Frere trying to fix this, with no luck. My mother would borrow money from people so I could go to town, which cost us R140 return, but I would come back empty-handed. What frustrated me most was to be told that I could not write grade 12 exams because I did not qualify - my ID said I was only 13 years old,” he said.

Finally he was allowed to write his matric exams in 2015, but now he can’t get his results.

He said at the Eastern Cape Department of Education offices in Lady Frere he had been told that he would get his results once he brought his “correct” ID number.

“I tried but nothing seem to be working. I can’t further my studies. I can’t find proper jobs because better jobs require a matric certificate.

“At my age I’m supposed to be working for my family but here I am stuck at home, trying to fix an ID number since 2002,” he said.

All he has been able to find are construction jobs where money is paid in cash. “As soon the company requires an ID and bank account I go away, because I know I’m not going to get a job even if I can do it,” he said.

Provincial education department spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said he would like to help but a correct ID was required for matric results.

GroundUp asked Mtima to check if Masibulele Soboyisi was on a list of learners who wrote in 2015 and he said his name did not appear on their system.

Eastern Cape Department of Home Affairs provincial manager Gcinile Mabulu said the matter was being attended to by the Queenstown office after GroundUp sent an inquiry.

He said he would also ensure that the case reached head office urgently.

* This story was first published on GroundUp