22 August 2012

Namibia: Pensioner Fed Up With OVC Delay

Otjiwarongo — A 90-year-old wheelchair-bound pensioner here says she has given up on trying to register her great-grandchild with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare's orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) programme.

Otillie Hoaës-Shikongo told Nampa in an interview last Wednesday that she has lost hope of ever having her nine-year-old great-grandchild registered with the programme in order for her to receive a monthly social grant, as she has been sent from pillar to post over a mistake on the child's birth certificate. Registered orphans and vulnerable children receive a monthly social grant of N$200.

Hoaës-Shikongo said she first attempted to have her great-granddaughter, Sharlon Brigitte Soroses, registered with the ministry in 2010 after her father, Elton Hoaëb, died that year. Soroses attends Spes Bona Primary School in Otjiwarongo.

"I went to their offices for the first time in 2010 and was told to bring documents, which I did. I was then told that the name of my grandson, Elton Hoaëb, did not correspond with the surname on my great-grandchild's full birth certificate," Hoaës-Shikongo explained.

On the girl's full birth certificate, her father is registered as Elton Shikongo. He was mistakenly registered as such because the child's mother, Salome Soroses, was under the impression that he, like his brothers, also carried the surname Shikongo. Soroses is still alive, but she is unemployed.

Hoaës-Shikongo was told by the ministry's officials at Otjiwarongo to obtain a declaration from the police confirming that her grandson's identification document (ID) states that his full name is Elton Hoaëb, and not Shikongo.

The declaration, seen by Nampa, states: "I am the biological mother of the late Lucia Hoaes, 55 - the biological mother of the late Elton Hoaëb, 31, who is the father of Brigitte Soroses.

"My surname before marriage was Hoaes, after marriage it changed to Hoaës-Shikongo . I declare that my great-grandchild's full birth certificate wrongly carries Shikongo as her father's surname. It is supposed to be Hoaëb ."

The declaration was issued last year, and taken to the ministry along with other documents such as the child's full birth certificate, her father's death certificate and parents' IDs.

Despite obtaining the declaration as initially told, officials at the ministry however then demanded that Hoaës-Shikongo  proceed to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration to have Soroses's full birth certificate amended.

At the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Deputy Director of Population Services, Lydia Kandetu, told her that it was not necessary to change the documents as long as the police declaration was made and attached to the other documents used for applying for the social grant.

Hoaës-Shikongo said Kandetu told her that several orphans faced the same problem with the gender ministry, and they were helped without having to change their documentation.

The pensioner now says she is fed up with being sent from pillar to post and is thinking of giving up.

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