ID mix-up leaves man, 68, destitute

Sipho Masombuka

Sipho Masombuka

For the past three years, 68-year-old Pretoria pensioner Ndoyisile Kula has been living in abject poverty after his grant was stopped because of a Home Affairs bungle.

In August 2004, Kula, of Lotus Gardens, near Atteridgeville, went to his pension paypoint as usual but was told his grant could not be paid because it had already been paid to someone with whom he shares an identity in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni.

His pay-card was withheld by Social Development officials and he was told to go to the Home Affairs department to report the matter. That is when his futile trips to the Home Affairs offices in the Pretoria CBD started.

Kula said on his first visit he was told to apply for another identity document.

"I asked the official what would be different in the new ID that would not match the one carried by the other person collecting my pension grant. The official told me to stop asking too many questions and fill in the forms.

"I was told to return after three months to collect my ID. A month later I received a letter informing me that my ID was ready. When I got there I was told there was a problem with my fingerprints, therefore no ID would be issued. Another set of fingerprints was taken," said Kula.

Two months later he received another letter from the department informing him to come to their offices.

On arrival there, he was asked where his parents were born or to produce their marriage certificate.

"I told them that I did not know where my parents were born and I did not have their marriage certificate. I was sent away and told to return after two months.

"More things were demanded when I went back. I was told to bring an older relative. I told them that I was the oldest person alive in my family. I gave up when they said I must bring a letter from the last school I attended. I have never been to school.

"I felt that they were demanding all these things to frustrate me," said Kula.

Meanwhile, Kula survives on handouts from neighbours and sympathisers.

Home Affairs spokesman Jacky Mashapu said the matter will be investigated.