South Africa: Teen Pleads With Home Affairs Minister to Make His Tertiary Dreams a Reality

When 19-year-old Tumane Mokoena matriculated with three distinctions, he hoped the world would be his oyster.

But there's one thing standing in his way of his 2019 studies at the University of Witwatersrand - getting his hands on a legal identity document.

"In order for me to complete my studies, I need funding and I cannot receive this without an identity document," he explained.

Mokoena, who lives with his grandmother, has been going up and down to the Department of Home Affairs for three years.

But he still hasn't been able to get the precious document because he is unable to locate his parents to verify his birth. In fact, he is not sure if they are still alive.

'I'm hurt'

"I'm hurt because the government which is supposed to assist me, has failed me," Mokoena told News24 at the Department of Home Affairs in Orlando West, Soweto on Thursday.

He joined the lengthy queue outside the Orlando West office as Minister of Home Affairs Siyabonga Cwele paid a visit to the crowded office ahead of the final voter registration weekend of January 26 to 27, 2019.

"I have been searching for my identity [document] for years and I had eventually given up until I started excelling in school. I am reaching out to the minister to help me or I must forfeit my bright future," he said.

But there was little that Cwele could do.

While the minister sympathised with Mokoena, he said late registrations of birth could be a lengthy, tedious process as part of efforts to avoid fraudulent entries.

"Late registration of birth is a challenge. That is why we urge parents to register their children within the first two months of birth.

"We have to follow the lengthy process because we have to protect our national database from fraudulent entries," he explained.

Challenges

During his visit, Cwele discovered several more challenges, such as capacity and uncollected documents.

"Soweto is quite a highly populated area, which means we have to expand ourselves. This Home Affairs [office], as a result, is forced to cut the queues and send people home, which leaves people justifiably angry," he explained.

While the branch remains crowded, the number of uncollected identity documents continues to pile up.

"Since 2014, there are approximately 90 000 uncollected identity documents in Gauteng, the bulk of which come from last year.

"Here in Soweto and Maponya Mall, we have over 6 000 uncollected IDs," he added.

As a result, the Department of Home Affairs is calling for residents of Soweto to visit their local branches and collect their IDs ahead of the final voter registration weekend.

The minister also paid a visit to Home Affairs branches in Roodepoort, Maponya Mall and Randburg.

The visits were part of the department's efforts to reduce waiting times at Home Affairs offices across the country.

Source: News24

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