Soweto pensioner Martha Moiloa caressed the green identity booklet, pressed it to her bosom and said: "Now I feel like a real citizen of this country."
Moiloa, 63, of Orlando East, lost her ID 15 years ago when the house she lived in at Tladi was gutted by fire.
The granny of four will for the first time be able to receive her old age pension - of R940 a month - after being without the cherished document since 1993.
"This is the greatest feeling ever. I am delighted to receive this important document before I die," an ecstatic Moiloa said.
She had been to and from the Department of Home Affairs offices trying to get another ID issued but without any luck, until she approached Sowetan last month.
Sowetan took her plight up and helped her restart the application process until the department delivered the good news to her yesterday.
Officials from the department's head office in Pretoria travelled to her home with her new ID.
"I thank Sowetan for this. It had felt like I was as good as dead because my peers were receiving pension while I continued to live in poverty."
Her nephew, Abraham Moiloa, said he could not take out funeral insurance for her because of the absence of an ID.
Moiloa said she would be able to help out in the house once she got her pension. She and Abraham live with her late sister's three children aged between nine and 15.
"Their mother died last year. We are taking care of them because they are still young and in school.
"I will happily do whatever I can to help them finish school," she said.
Home Affairs official Benjamin Khoza said the department was happy to help Moiloa, and that senior citizens "should be spared this kind of suffering".