A Limpopo woman who previously worked in the pharmaceutical industry has blamed the Department of Home Affairs for her heart surgery, which she says resulted from its flawed identity document (ID) blocking system.
Elizabeth Shingange, 46, of Nkowankowa in Tzaneen, says the department, which she compared to “Satan”, cost her the capacity to earn a living more than ten years ago after unfairly blocking her ID.
She says her struggles are far from over, despite her ID being ultimately restored three years ago.
“I’m a dead woman walking. It is painful to be unemployed because of Home Affairs’ poor decision made 13 years ago. Aside from the lost work chances, I am still a victim. Home Affairs, in my opinion, is worse than Satan. They devastate your life and then move on as if they were angels.
“The fact that my ID was restored did not change the reality that I am still blacklisted and unable to purchase items on credit or receive funding to establish a small business,” she said.
Shingange’s issue began in 2007, when she misplaced her ID book in a hotel room in Boksburg North, Gauteng.
“I travelled to Gauteng for a job interview and was successful; however, they later rejected me due to difficulties with my ID. I investigated the situation on my own and was able to track down the address of the fraudster who was using my ID. The police were able to capture the suspect, but she was released after six months.
“I was overjoyed when I learned of her detention and hurried to the Home Affairs headquarters to share the good news. Instead of being praised as a hero, the officials sent me a letter warning me not to conduct ID fraud again,” she said.
Shingange, who lives at her parents’ house, said that the fraudster used her ID to incur debts and participate in illegal activities.
She blamed Home Affairs, claiming that their corrupt system allowed someone to use her ID fraudulently.
“Fraudsters do not create IDs. They obtain them from Home Affairs personnel, who are frequently not arrested. Their heinous deeds have now reduced me to destitution. I am depressed today, and I had to undergo heart surgery.
“To be honest, I’m not doing well. Despite passing all interviews, I have lost more than 12 jobs in the last ten years. When my employers learned about my identification issues, they fired me right away. Depending on when they learned that my ID was restricted, I worked for three days at some companies and six months at others,” said the mother of two.
Shingange’s poor credit history prevents her from obtaining finance to establish a small business today.
Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) represented more than 100 blocked ID victims in a case heard last week in the Pretoria High Court. The case had been reserved for judgment.
According to Thandeka Chauke, an LHR representative, “the government has no right to block people’s IDs when investigating fraud cases.”
Chauke said nearly 700,000 people’s IDs were blocked, which is unconstitutional. She went on to say that LHR was continuing its campaign to help people have their IDs unblocked.
Home Affairs spokesman Siyabulela Qoza invited Shingange to approach the department for help repairing her credit history.
“The department usually issues a letter each time a case is resolved. We also issue a reprint if necessary. She should feel free to request a reprint if she needs one,” said Qoza.