Rather tattered ID than blonde Magagula

It can only happen in South Africa, so it goes.

It can only happen in South Africa, so it goes.

Imagine, a blond, blue-eyed 40-something-year-old man with the name Thoko Promise Magagula?

Well, forget your standard Department of Home Affairs bungles.

We have read of, say, a black man born in 1980, but who in real life looks 50, with names that belong to someone else.

On a more tragic note, we recently published the story of Cecilia Flink, who has lived without an ID for more than 30 years.

The unfortunate woman died soon after she received her cherished green book. All along, she had thought that the ID would enable her to at last have a decent roof over her head.

Flink and her children had lived in a shack all their lives. Alas, she went to the grave with that wish of a proper home.

We are a nation in denial. Not only is Home Affairs a perennial bungler, but many other departments are as well.

I am not going to mention the political fiasco of the day. I am not going to be tempted to talk about our Minister of Health. I am not even going to mention her name. I am not even going to mention the fact that President Thabo Mbeki is facing the wall and refusing to face his people about the Manto Tshabalala-Msimang debacle.

Oops, I reneged on my earlier promise. Remember I said I wouldn't mention a lot of things, including the name of the minister of health. But you have been warned not to trust me.

Going back to the blundering of the Department of Home Affairs, I have to mention Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Frankly, she doesn't inspire confidence as one who is charged with a sensitive and perhaps even the most important of portfolios in the cabinet.

Lest I repeat what has been already said, that department is in shambles and it needs someone with balls to run it.

Home Affairs deals with births, marriages, deaths and immigration, among many other things. All these issues have to be handled with the utmost care and by a hand-picked team of professionals.

How many times are we going to be writing about Africans in the new democracy who flood the offices of Sowetan with stories such as that of the young Ekurhuleni woman?

Just the other day, she went to her local Home Affairs offices for a routine change of her surname. She had the fright of her life when she was told that she was married to a man called Mohammed, whom she had never heard of, nor met.

In two weeks time the shocked woman and her fiance were planning to celebrate their wedding. Now they can't get married until the mess has been sorted out.

The list of cock-ups is endless, despite assurances from the government that it is on top of the situation and that, in fact, the problems are on the decline.

Personally, I am afraid. Very afraid. My green ID book is falling apart and I am thinking of resorting to using sticky tape just to keep the pages together. The thought of applying for a new ID sends a shiver down my spine.

What if my new document comes back from Pretoria with a picture of a green-eyed brunette, with names such as Anna-Marie Wilhemina Koekemoer?