Dead woman is still alive, say Home Affairs officials

Sammy Moretsi

Sammy Moretsi

A family in Westonaria on the West Rand cannot bury their daughter because the Department of Home Affairs says she is still alive.

Zukiswa Phikelela, 35, who was suffering from TB, died at Leratong Hospital on October 30.

The next day her sister Nozuko, 32, and a mortuary official went to the department's office in Randfontein to apply for her death certificate.

Nozuko said the officials told them that the department's records showed that Zukiswawas still alive, and refused to issue a death certificate.

Family spokesman Monde Gushu said the delay was expensive because Zukiswa was the only employed person in the family, and they could not gain access to her estate, including her banking accounts.

Gushu said a department official, whose name tag read Thandi, said a death certificate would only be issued after three months.

The dead woman's worried mother, Ntisane Mzayi, 58, said she was concerned that her 10-year-old granddaughter might not qualify for a state grant because of the bungle.

The department's spokesman, Jacky Mashapu, would not respond to questions about the bungle, but questioned the family's decision to approach this newspaper.

"It baffles me that when people have problems with the department, they run to the Sowetan instead of coming to us. If you have a problem with a bank, you go to the manager and not the public.

"The woman was supposed to complain to the relevant officials at the department. I want Sowetan to e-mail me all the facts before I attend to the matter."

He did not acknowledge that people approached the press to highlight their problems in frustration because officials seemed incapable of performing their duties.