Shocked woman told she is dead

Sunday Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - NKU­L­ULEKO NENE

HOME Af­fairs doc­u­men­ta­tion has it that Mbalenhle Pre­cious Mpanza died seven years ago of nat­u­ral causes but the 30-year-old mother is very much alive, al­beit bat­tling to sur­vive with­out an of­fi­cial iden­tity.

Mpanza said she was shocked in 2014 when In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of­fi­cials who had scanned her ID at her vot­ing sta­tion told her she had been de­clared dead by Home Af­fairs.

“I burst into tears,” un­em­ployed mother said.

“I had no idea how this had hap­pened and why. They told me I could not vote, and I have not been able to do so since,” Mpanza said in an in­ter­view with the Sun­day Tri­bune in umlazi this week.

“It feels like my rights have been taken away from me.”

Mpanza said when she first went to the Home Af­fairs of­fices in Prospec­ton three years ago, an of­fi­cial told her that she had “died in umz­imkhulu” and been de­clared dead in Septem­ber 2012.

“I have never been to Mz­imkhulu and don’t know any­one there,” she said.

She later got a call from an of­fi­cial say­ing she should ex­pect an SMS fol­lowed by a letter from Pre­to­ria, declar­ing that she was back on their sys­tem as a liv­ing per­son.

Three years on, no such doc­u­men­ta­tion has ar­rived.

“Life has been a roller­coaster. I have lost count of the num­ber of trips I have made to dif­fer­ent branches of home af­fairs ev­ery year,” she said.

As an un­em­ployed mother, Mpanza is de­pen­dent on a so­cial wel­fare grant to care for her nine-year-old daugh­ter, Gcino. But her so­cial wel­fare grant has not been paid since 2014.

The South African So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency (Sassa) has ad­vised her to first sort out the death cer­tifi­cate is­sue with with the De­part­ment of Home Af­fairs.

As far as SASSA is the con­cerned she is still dead.

Mpanza showed the Tri­bune her now dys­func­tional iden­tity doc­u­ment. She has been told she can only get a new ID book once the death cer­tifi­cate is of­fi­cially out of the sys­tem.

“With­out a valid ID I can­not even look for work or study nurs­ing to build a fu­ture for my­self,” said Mpanza.

“I rely on my mother and younger sis­ter for my daugh­ter’s sup­port. My life has stalled.”

She is also con­cerned that should she meet an un­for­tu­nate ac­ci­dent and ac­tu­ally die, her fam­ily would have dif­fi­cul­ties claim­ing fu­neral ben­e­fits be­cause she would have al­ready been de­clared dead.

“Ngife ngiphila!” (I am alive but dead), she said.

Kwazulu-natal Sassa spokesman, Vusi Ma­haye said Mpanza should bring a valid doc­u­ment from Home Af­fairs clear­ing her from the dead so that a new ap­pli­ca­tion for her daugh­ter’s sup­port grant could be pro­cessed.

“It will be a new ap­pli­ca­tion but she won’t be back-paid be­cause the can­cel­la­tion was over a three-month pe­riod,” he said.

Ma­haye said while Mpanza dealt with Home Af­fairs she could get a rel­a­tive liv­ing with her to reg­is­ter her daugh­ter at Sassa but she must pro­duce an af­fi­davit as proof.

The De­part­ment of Home Af­fairs had not re­sponded to Sun­day Tri­bune queries on Mpanza’s case at the time of go­ing to print.

PIC­TURE: NQO­BILE MBONAMBI/ AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

A world­wide event that cel­e­brates the im­por­tant and sig­nif­i­cant im­pact that sci­ence has in ad­vanc­ing knowl­edge and im­prov­ing the qual­ity of lives came to the city yes­ter­day. Or­gan­iser of the Dur­ban chap­ter of the march, Pro­fes­sor Quar­raisha Ab­dool...

PIC­TURE: NQO­BILE MBONAMBI/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY/ANA

Of­fi­cially de­clared dead by the De­part­ment of Home Af­fairs in 2012, Mbalenhle Mpanza can’t find work, ex­er­cise her right to vote, or ac­cess her par­ent­ing sup­port grant from so­cial wel­fare.

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