Bun­gle has left mom ‘alive but dead’

The Sunday Independent - - News - 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 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 that she had been de­clared dead by Home Af­fairs.

“I burst into tears,” the un­em­ployed mother said. “I had no idea how this hap­pened and why.

They told me I could not vote, and I have not been able to do so since,” said Mpanza in an interview with In­de­pen­dent Me­dia in uMlazi, out­side Dur­ban, this week.

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

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

“I have never been to Mz­imkhulu or know any­one there,” said Mpanza.

She said she later got a call from an of­fi­cial, say­ing that she could ex­pect an SMS fol­lowed by a let­ter from Pre­to­ria, declar­ing that she was back on their sys­tem as liv­ing per­son. Three years later, Mpanza has still not re­ceived any doc­u­men­ta­tion and her life has stalled.

“Life has been a roller-coaster. I have lost count of the num­ber of trips I have made to dif­fer­ent branches of Home Af­fairs ev­ery year,” she said.

Mpanza is de­pen­dent on a so­cial wel­fare grant to care for her nineyear-old daugh­ter, Gcino.

How­ever, the grant has not been paid since 2014.

The SA So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency (Sassa) has ad­vised her that she must first sort out the death cer­tifi­cate is­sue with the De­part­ment of Home Af­fairs. As far as Sassa is con­cerned, she is still a dead per­son.

Mpanza showed In­de­pen­dent Me­dia her now-dys­func­tional iden­tity doc­u­ment.

She has been told she can only get a new ID once the death cer­tifi­cate is of­fi­cially out of the sys­tem.

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

“I rely on both my mother and younger sis­ter for my daugh­ter’s sup­port.”

She is also con­cerned that should she meet with an un­for­tu­nate ac­ci­dent and ac­tu­ally die, her fam­ily will have dif­fi­cul­ties claim­ing against her funeral pol­icy be­cause she has pre­vi­ously been de­clared dead.

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

Nei­ther the De­part­ment of Home Af­fairs nor Sassa has re­sponded to queries on Mpanza’s un­for­tu­nate case.


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

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