Feels likes a little boy again
THE 74-year-old former farm worker living a life of virtual slavery on a farm in Brits, North West, feels like a little boy again. This is because he received an identity document for the first time in his life last Thursday.
The ecstatic Elias Mutavhatsindi said he felt like his life had just begun.
"I know because of my age people might think that I am old but I feel renewed inside, I feel like a little boy," he said.
Mutavhatsindi was placed at a state old age home called Sonop in Brits after Sowetan highlighted his plight.
Although he can now apply for an old age pension because he has an ID, he does not qualify for the money because he stays at a government-funded home.
South African Social Security Agency's Smangaliso Semelani said the man would only get his pension grant when he left the old age home.
He said they would only register Mutavhatsindi's existence from the time he applied for his pension grant.
"We cannot account for all those years from the time he reached 65. He can only be paid from the time he applied for the grants according to our policy."
He said, because the shelter is state funded, Mutavhatsindi cannot get the grant as that would be double dipping.
Sowetan exposed Mutavhatsindi's squalid living conditions in April this year, when he was earning R300 a month. He did not know the whereabouts of his family or have an ID.
He was then rescued from his life of squalor by a North West non-governmental organisation called Age in Action, which placed him at the old age home.
After getting help, the Home Affairs department then discovered that his surname was not Tshililo but Mutavhatsindi and that he was 74 years old and not 72 as reported earlier.
He was also re-united with his long-lost brother Wilson who also stayed in Brits.
Home Affairs officials said Mutavhatsindi's ID was delayed because of the mix up.
But the waiting was worthwhile for Mutavhatsindi.
Old age home manager Johanna Tlhapi said his condition had improved so much he is now using a stick rather than a wheelchair, to get around.