A nine-month-old baby has been hospitalised for malnutrition and her three siblings forced to go hungry because their mother cannot access state grants because Home Affairs records show she is dead.
The mother, Dumazile Nzama, 36, is unemployed and widowed.
She said that previously with the child support grant of R230 a month for each of her four children, aged 4, 8, 14 and 9 months, she had been able to put food on the table.
But things changed when the grants were suspended because according to Home Affairs she died on October 1 last year.
Nzama of Bhambayi, near Inanda in Durban, said she only found out about her mysterious "death" when she went to the social welfare offices in Phoenix to receive her October payout. While there she was told that she was "dead" and therefore the grants had been "terminated".
She said she approached the Home Affairs department in Durban's Umgeni Road where she was then referred to the department's headquarters in Pietermaritzburg.
"There the officials failed to help me. They accused me of faking my own death."
Nzama said this was not the first time that she had been "let down by department officials".
"My husband Siyabonga Derick Mnguni was a long- distance truck driver. He disappeared in May last year and was found dead.
"His body was recovered in a state mortuary in Johannesburg."
She said according to Home Affairs, her husband had died in 2004.
"He must have died twice because Home Affairs records showed that he had died four years before his death," she said.
She said her husband spent the last four years of his life in and out of Home Affairs trying to rectify his status from "dead to alive".
"When he eventually died last year Home Affairs could not issue a death certificate because he had been declared dead before.
"His funeral insurers refused to pay and I had to beg and borrow from friends and family. I was left with nothing."
Home Affairs spokesman Joseph Mohajane said the department was aware of fraudulent deaths.
He said as of Monday they had put measures in place in all Home Affairs offices to investigate fraudulent deaths so that they could reinstate the people's status in the national population register.
Mohajane said Nzama should obtain an affidavit from the police and take it to the local Home Affairs offices to apply for the reinstatement of her status.
"The matter will be investigated and those found involved in the fraudulent acts could face prosecution," said Mohajane.