THE Home Affairs department is at it again.
This time around inflicting more pain on people mourning the death of their spouses by slapping them with death certificates stating they were "never married".
This is said to be because the department has not electronically captured all marriages that were recorded manually.
"When a spouse, whose details were not electronically captured, requires a death certificate in order to access whatever benefits, officials simply make a printout of a certificate that says the deceased was never married," said a court official whose office is inundated with complaints.
Widow Joalane Mofokeng of Mapetla in Soweto is one of the victims of Home Affairs' incompetence.
Though her husband Makwaba died in 1996 she is still unable to transfer their house onto her name.
This, she said, was because the department insisted she was never married.
The department's Cleo Mosana said applicants who want to update their marital status must produce their marriage certificates.
Mofokeng maintains she has done so but in vain.
"I presented this marriage certificate but they still turned down my application," she said, brandishing her original marriage certificate.
Instead the pensioner was told to get a lawyer to assist her.
"I have been to every office, including Legal Aid Board. I can't afford a lawyer with my pension grant. The day I die there might be a fight over my house because I am not able to make a will for my children," she said.
Mofokeng is just one of many widows or widowers being sent from pillar to post by Home Affairs over their marital status.
Sowetan is in possession of copies of death certificates that indicate the marital status of the holders as "never married" when they were actually married.
Mosana said the department had embarked on a campaign of "Lokisa Ditokomane", in terms of which the public is encouraged to update their marital status while they are still alive.
She insisted that if the affected people produced proof of marriage after the death of a spouse "the department will immediately update their marital status accordingly".