No end in sight for man’s seven-year wait for ID

David Lebelwane, working in his carpentry business, that he runs from his backyard.

WAIT. That’s all 57-year-old David Lebelwane, has been doing for seven years – waiting for Home Affairs to issue him with his ID.

“Today, I am still waiting,” says the Lacey Road resident who is a carpenter by trade.

Lebelwane is one of many countless South Africans who, despite applying for an ID, have not received them.

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Fresh in the minds of many is the 2009 incident in KwaZulu-Natal when a distraught man committed suicide after a long wrestle with home affairs to register his birth and obtain an ID.

His application was torn up by a home affairs official because it did not meet the requirements to satisfy the burden of proof. Home affairs demanded that his parents be present for the application, but his parents had long since died without having registered his birth. Ultimately, he was unable to prove his nationality.

According to Lebelwane, who owns a construction company and runs a carpentry business from his backyard, the debacle over his ID has not only caused him stress, but has ultimately cost him a lot of money because it has hampered his business as he is unable to bid for any tenders without a valid ID.

“I have people who are dependent on me to provide them with employment. I have over 56 bricklayers that I have been working with for almost 15 years. My family has also suffered. Unlike other men, my kids have taken their mother’s surname and not mine because I do not have an ID,” he said.

David Lebelwane, from Lacey Road informal settlement sits in home.

Lebelwane said his problem with Home Affairs started in 2010, when he tried to apply for an ID.

“I registered my company in 1997 using my late wife’s details. After she passed away I had to change the ownership of the company and because I have no ID it was not successful. In 2010 I applied for my ID and birth certificate, but only received my birth certificate. After months of waiting for my ID, I went to Home Affairs and discovered that my ID number is being used by someone else, a man by the name of Luzuko Madayi. What boggles my mind is how did that person receive the ID without any contact details,” asked Lebelwane.

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When Berea Mail, asked Home Affairs what the cause of the delay in issuing Lebelwane’s ID was, Lucresia Parker from the Ethekwini Local Office Large replied: “The notation was made by Head Office on 17 January 2017. The matter is referred to the Head of Immigration at Umgeni office to intervene and provide further feedback.”

But Lebelwane says he is tired of doing the same thing over and over without any results.

“How many many times should I go to the Immigration office. We wrote to Naledi Pandor when she was still the Home Affairs Minister, she referred us to the immigration department where my fingerprints were taken to ascertain where I am a foreigner. Earlier this year I tried re-applying for my ID and was again sent to Immigration to do the same thing. Previous and current city councillors are aware of my ID crisis but no one can help. I am tired, I just want to carry on with my life.”

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According to Liesl Muller, an attorney with the Statelessness Project at Lawyers for Human Rights, a blocked ID equates to someone being deprived of nationality and denied access to basic rights while their status is investigated.

“As for fraudulently obtained ID numbers, officials routinely block ID numbers upon mere suspicion of the person being a “foreigner”. Fraudsters and innocents alike are being deprived of nationality until they can prove their identities. Due to strict documentary requirements, many are unable to prove their heritage. The initiative, in principle a praiseworthy effort, simultaneously poses a direct threat to the right to nationality,” she said.



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Rudy Nkgadima

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