Mandla Nkosi met Sowetan at his workplace in Soweto yesterday - but according to Home Affairs records he died six years ago when he was only 14 years old.
Nkosi, 20, of Jabulani, Soweto, first applied for an ID at the Home Affairs office in Dobsonville in February 2006.
He was told to return after three months to collect his ID.
But on his return Nkosi got the shock of his life.
"They told me I could not get an ID because I died in 2002," Nkosi said.
They said he died on October 3 2002 in Madadeni, KwaZulu-Natal.
"I have never been to KwaZulu-Natal in my life," Nkosi said.
Nkosi was then advised to take the matter up with the Roodepoort office.
In Roodepoort Nkosi was told to get an affidavit stating that he was alive - which he did.
He returned weeks later and was told": "We are working on your ID."
In July 2007 Nkosi decided to go to Home Affairs in Market Street, Johannesburg, hoping for better service.
"I was upset when I was told that I was still dead," he said
Nkosi applied for a new ID again but when he returned he was told once more "we are working on it".
Department spokesman Joseph Mohajane said the error could have been caused by the capturing of wrong ID numbers or a fraudulent registration of death.
"Nkosi should submit a birth registration form and an affidavit that he is alive, and his application will be processed," Mohajane said.