Another flagrant Home Affairs blunder comes to fore
For almost 20 years Zacharia Senokoane has gone about life as a woman because Home Affairs decided he was not a man.
Despite his physical features affirming his gender, he has had to obtain a medical certificate confirming that he is indeed a man.
Sowetan is in possession of a copy of the certificate.
Dated November 8 2004 the doctor's note, bearing his identity number, states: "The above patient on medical examination is a male patient."
The 37-year-old father of two lives with his common-law wife in Lawley, Johannesburg south.
"This has humiliated me more than the runaround I have been subjected to by Home Affairs," he told Sowetan.
He said he cannot even draw his salary now because his bank account has been frozen.
He approached Sowetan in desperation because it was the last straw for him and his family, who now do not have money for Christmas and the New Year.
Senokoane said that in July he lost his ATM card and reported it to the bankm which replaced it.
But recently when he tried to withdraw money, the machine refused to release money. The ATM slip announced there was a problem with his account and that he must go to the bank's branch. A bank official said the bank had discovered that the ID number in its records indicated he was female.
That was why his account, which he has had since 1997, was frozen.
"I am not looking forward to Christmas because I am not in a celebratory mood. My oldest child, five-year-old Thabang, is starting school next year and I can't even afford the uniform," said Senokoane.
Also, since paying ilobolo for his bride six years ago, he desperately wants to legalise the marriage so that he can obtain a marriage certificate.
Even his children do not bear his surname. They use their mother's maiden name.
"I cannot do all these important things because the government has decided that I am a woman," said Senokoane, a security guard.
"I have been to Home Affairs offices in Johannesburg and Pretoria several times and asked them to correct the error.
"I even went to the doctor, who certified that I am a man, and I voluntarily went to the police to make a sworn affidavit," said the tall, slender Senokoane, who speaks with a manly, deep voice.
"I don't know where my salary is going this month if this problem is not sorted out now. I even fear the future because I don't know what is going to happen to me and my family," he said, gently holding his seven-month-old baby, Lehlohonolo.
Senokoane said it felt like his world had suddenly crashed around him.
"I feel like I am unemployed because of all the financial problems I am now encountering.
"I have money in my bank account but I don't have access to it," he said.
Cleo Mosana, spokesman for the Minister of Home Affairs Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, said: "This is not a train smash. We will do everything to fast-track another application for this client."
She said her office would send someone to his house today to get all the relevant documents to process his application.
Mosana said the ministry was concerned about its current state of affairs.
"We are the only department that touches people's lives from the cradle to the grave.
"We are working on putting things in order," she said.