Picture: Neil Baynes
Picture: Neil Baynes

Phoenix man waiting for ID for 17 years threatens legal action against Home Affairs

By Nadia Khan Time of article published Jun 4, 2021

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Durban: He cannot legally drive a car, travel by plane, have a bank account, or be registered as an employee at a company because he has no identity.

Moodley, 38, of Phoenix, has been trying to get an identity document from the Department of Home Affairs for 17 years.

“I feel as if I am a living corpse, with no future to look forward to. I cannot even vote. All I want is an identity document.”

Moodley has secured only casual work over the years at stores that belong to family and friends. He uses his earnings to help support his mother, 66, with whom he lives.

“I lost my dad when I was one and my mother became the sole provider of our family. She had to take care of three young boys. When I was in high school, her health deteriorated. She became partially sighted, was diagnosed with cancer, and battled to walk unaided.

“I left school in Grade 10 to help with the household chores and expenses. This meant washing clothes, selling fruit and vegetables on the pavement, or walking door to door selling savouries such as murkhoo to earn a few rand.”

Moodley said he decided to apply for his ID after he turned 21 in 2004.

“My birth certificate was lost while we were shifting, so I asked officials from Tongaat home affairs what I should do. They advised that I get letters from my primary and high schools and bring in my parent’s ID documents and my dad’s death certificate, which I did.

“However, after filling out the application form, the official asked why I wanted another ID document when I already had one. He then showed me the computer screen. The person in the picture was someone else but he had all my details.”

Moodley said he was advised to go to the Umgeni Road branch of home affairs for a late registration birth application. He said he could not understand why he needed one when he already presented them with the proof the officials requested. Moodley said he and his mom nevertheless went to the alternate branch.

“I was fingerprinted, interviewed by three officials and told to return in a few weeks, which I did. But I was told the application was still in progress. Months passed until I was called again and told that my fingerprints needed to be retaken as it was not captured. More time passed and then I was told I had to be reinterviewed.”

He said his appointment for the interview was rescheduled several times.

“After I was finally interviewed, I was given a contact number for the head office in Pretoria to check on my application. Despite checking on the progress, nothing happened. I eventually ended up going to head office in 2018 for answers.”

He said his brother drove him and his partner there.

“I could not get a driver’s licence or travel by plane because I did not have an ID. The officials were of no help. I was told the application was in progress and nothing could be done.”

He said he was fortunate to have met a friendly employee at the home affairs branch on Umgeni Road and he was able to get an abridged birth certificate.

“I was happy to finally have it as I could now apply for an ID.”

But three years have passed and he still has not received feedback on his ID application.

“Nobody can tell me what is happening.”

In 2019, he contacted attorney Serisha Inderjeeth for assistance.

Inderjeeth said: “We were appalled after hearing what our client has had to deal with for such a long period of time. Our initial calls to the employees at the Umgeni Road home affairs proved futile. We decided to take it further and write to its manager in October 2019. While the email was acknowledged, there was no further outcome.”

Last August, Inderjeeth wrote to Aaron Motsoaledi, the Minister of Home Affairs, and Jackie McKay, the Acting Director-General for the Department of Home Affairs.

“But there was no feedback until we sent a follow-up email earlier this month. We received a response from an advocate on May 21, who stated that the matter is receiving attention and we would be shortly advised of the outcome. We are now awaiting feedback. However, we will proceed with a high court application compelling their offices to assist my client with the relief sought if they do not respond,” Inderjeeth said.

“Our intention is to bring relief to our client, who has been literally dragged from pillar to post. His rights to dignity and freedom have been infringed on and he has not been able to lead a normal life. As a South African, he deserves that sort of respect from the government.”

The provincial and national departments of home affairs has not responded.

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