ID crisis deals heavy blow to teen

An identity document crisis has left the family of a matric pupil in despair.

Amogelang Ngakane, 18, may not be able to begin her final exams on Monday because she does not have a South African ID. Her guardian, Thuli Msingatha, has spent the past year trying to get Home Affairs to issue Amogelang with a birth certificate in order for her to get an ID.

Amogelang was born in South Africa. Her mother, Hesi Ngakane, came from Lesotho while pregnant with her, and later started to work for Msingatha’s aunt as a helper.

When Amogelang’s mother passed away in 2004, Msingatha wasn’t aware that she had no documents.

It was only when Amogelang asked her to help her apply for an ID in order for her to write matric that Msingatha found out.

Amogelang claims her mother did not give birth in a hospital and could not get a card from the clinic or a birth certificate for her because she did not have a South African ID at that time.

Msingatha enquired at the Randfontein Home Affairs office in December last year and was told to bring in Amogelang’s baptism certificate and letters from her primary and high school principals to prove she had been in this country all her life.

These were submitted, and in February they were called in for interviews for late birth registrations.

After the interviews, they were told Amogelang would be deported and Msingatha would be arrested because she was helping immigrants to obtain South African IDs.

“Amogelang was so distressed. The situation made her think she would not be able to write her exams. I couldn’t understand why we were being treated this way,” Msingatha said.

On May 20, Amogelang was deported to Lesotho.

Once there it was found that she did not have a vaccination mark from that country, indicating she was not born there. She returned to South Africa with a letter from the king indicating this.

Her Lesotho-based father, Boithatelo Machobane, also confirmed she was not born in Lesotho.

The South African ID for Amogelang’s mother did eventually get to the family, but it was claimed to be illegal because the issue date was a month after her death in May 2004.

“They told us there was a loophole, and when I checked her status on the website, Ngakane was still alive. All the mistakes are with Home Affairs,” said Msingatha.

Amogelang is a bright-eyed pupil who wants to study biochemistry next year.

She has had to use affidavits to write her exams.

“I’ve just tried to forget about this situation and write my exams well. I’m accepting I’ll never get an ID,” she said.

The Gauteng manager for the Department of Home Affairs, Mpho Moloi, said it was an unfortunate situation and the department would try to help where possible.

“A person being born in the country does not necessarily make them a citizen... At least one of the parents has to be South African,” Moloi added.