ID too late to provide a house called home

Namhla Tshisela

Namhla Tshisela

For more than three decades, Cecilia Flink of Klipspruit West, Johannesburg, was a non-citizen because she did not have an ID.

Flink finally received her ID in 2004, but did not live long enough to see the government fulfil her dream of obtaining a proper house.

She died at the age of 74 last year in a shack in which she had lived for 34 years despite being promised an RDP house by the government.

Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Gauteng social development MEC Bob Mabaso had pledged to help Flink acquire a house.

Mapisa-Nqakula is reported to have said she would "arrange" an RDP house for Flink.

"But after all these years we have heard nothing from the government," said Flink's daughter, Noelien Stokes.

Home Affairs spokesman Mantshele Tau said he did not "recall the minister promising a house or making any arrangement".

Flink's citizenship was unfairly withdrawn from her in 1972 by the then Bantu Affairs Commissioner in Johannesburg.

This happened when she went to the commissioner's office to register the birth of her daughter, Helen.

The white commissioner thought she was "too dark" to give birth to a light-skinned baby, despite being married to a coloured man. He then seized her ID without an explanation.

It was a wretched time for the entire family because they often went without food.

Flink finally received a pension after receiving the ID. This was after her plight was published in Sowetan.

"Life changed for all of us after that. My mother could afford little things for herself and her grandchildren," said Stokes.

At the time Flink was also looking after Helen who was terminally ill.

"Helen and my mother were very happy then because our lives were improving," said Stokes.

Helen died shortly after her mother received the ID.

After the deaths of Helen and Flink, Stokes, who is unemployed, was left to care for her sister's three-year-old daughter Jermaine.