Mercy Ntuli may have excelled in her matric examination but her dream of becoming an electrical engineer might fade away if she does not get an identity document soon.
Ntuli, 16, pictured, wants to do her degree at the Tshwane University of Technology but she cannot register without an ID.
"My mother has tried everything to get me an ID but nothing has worked out," she said.
Ntuli said a certain company had promised her a bursary. She cannot access the bursary because she has not registered with any institution.
"I have not lost hope. One day I will get an ID," said the youngster.
Ntuli, of Clayville in Midrand, obtained two distinctions and five Bs in her exams. She was also the only pupil to obtain distinctions at Tsosoloso Ya Africa Secondary School in Ivory Park.
Her mother Lisbeth said she lost her daughter's birth certificate when they moved from Mpumalanga to Ebony Park in Midrand.
"I have been to three different home affairs offices, including their head office in Pretoria. Each time I was turned away," she said.
Ntuli, 47, said she was advised to get a letter from her daughter's first school, her husband's death certificate and an affidavit from the police.
"I did that but still nothing happened," she said.
The unemployed mother said she will not be able to pay for her daughter's university fees.
"I wish she could get an ID before the universities open. I also hope that the company that had promised her a bursary will still be interested," she said.
Home Affairs spokesman Siobhan McCarthy said: "She needs to apply for a late birth certificate first - before she can apply for an ID. Her mother must get someone to vouch that she was born in South Africa."