'Desperate citizens are paying cash for ID books'

Date: 22 Nov 2006
Man still waiting after 11 months, but Home Affairs' story stays the same A Joburg man says Home Affairs is fuelling corruption, as desperation drives people to buy their ID books. Trust Bond (27) has been waiting 11 months for a replacement ID book, which has yet to arrive. Bond says he is not willing to buy an ID book because "I am a church person". But he says he understands why people resort to that. Bond applied for a new ID book after he lost his in a taxi. He thought getting a new one would not take long as he had an ID number. But he says his life "hangs in the balance" as he waits for the new book to be issued. Bond is supposed to be getting married in a few weeks. The wedding cake has been bought, designers are busy with his fiancée's wedding dress and the rings are in a safe. The venue has been booked for December 17, but if his ID book does not arrive by then, there will be no wedding. Bond applied for his new ID last December. Whenever he called at the Home Affairs offices, the story was the same. He would be told to come in two weeks or in month and his ID would be ready then. He has even gone to Pretoria and spoken to some senior officials, telling them of his plight. He was told to follow the proper channels. "I have gone through all those channels but I get the same story: 'The problem is being sorted out.' " Eleven months later, Bond is still waiting and has come to realise that the loss of an ID book comes with huge inconvenience. He has received a letter of demand from the Credit Bureau for R2 500. He told the company he did not have any debt and sent the letter back. Later it was found that the individual who owed the company money had Bond's ID number. More problems followed. Towards the end of 2005, Bond went to write a test for his driver's license. The system showed that there were two individuals who were yet to write the test. They had applied with Bond's name and ID number. He approached Home Affairs for an explanation and found that his old ID number was no longer in their system. He says people working at Home Affairs do not realise that people's lives depend on them. Bond says: "We can do nothing without an ID. Few people realise the value of an ID book. It is something they take for granted. At the moment I cannot apply for a driver's license or a home loan. I want to get married next month but it all hangs in the balance because I do not have a valid ID document." Bond, who works part-time as a marketing assistant, says the worry is taking its toll on him, causing him to lose focus on his job. "I have to take time off and run around to sort out this problem. I signed a contract to be at work at a certain time and get paid for the work that I do, not for the days I am not there," he said. "People resort to buying ID books because they feel stranded and desperate." The spokesperson for Home Affairs, Mantshele wa ga Tau, disagreed with Bond's stance. He said Home Affairs had observed that South Africans did not buy ID books because they were entitled to them. ID documents were bought by foreigners who wanted to legitimise their stay in the country. "We respect his opinion but it is important to emphasise that Home Affairs is committed to providing enabling documents because this is its mandate. The issue of delays needs to be investigated. Only then we will know the cause," he said. Tau said that cases where people had been waiting a long time for their IDs were treated as urgent. He advised Bond to visit his nearest Home Affairs office. By Botho Molosankwe The Star 22/11/06