Challenges persist for some South Africans in obtaining IDs

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As South Africa commemorates 30 years since the dawn of democracy, some citizens still face hurdles in obtaining identity documents.

Abram Binang, 65, from Ganyesa in the North West province, revealed that he has never possessed an official identification card or birth certificate. This absence makes accessing government assistance difficult for him.

Binang, who is disabled and lives alone, encounters obstacles in his daily life due to the lack of necessary identification.

He expressed, “I’ve been living a tough life. For a long time I was living and working on farms until I came home. I found my sick mother here, and I was the one who was taking care of her. She couldn’t go with me to get an ID because of her illness. My family isn’t helping me, but my neighbours, Mr. Matolong, Tshidi, and Mmathapelo, are the ones supporting me.”

His neighbour Olebogeng Matolong, who stepped in to assist, mentioned facing challenges in previous attempts to obtain an ID for Binang.

Matolong says, “We went to Home Affairs and someone told us the committee is coming, so it’s better if you meet the committee. What happened is that I asked him to go to Home Affairs with me. He agreed and he was interviewed. The only problem we encountered was that there was no one to corroborate the story. So they said they will issue a car that will come and interview someone from the family. I can gladly say they did come because what happened is that a day later there’s a guy from Home Affairs and then he took his fingerprints and he made him sign some papers.”

Home Affairs Minister Dr. Aaron Motswaledi cited a lack of knowledge, particularly in rural areas, as a reason for some people not having IDs.

Motswaledi says, “I have a program, which started in August 2022, where I go to villages, especially rural villages, because those problems that they mentioned are very common for rural villages, for various reasons. And some of them are caused by a lack of knowledge of procedures in government. That’s why I started in 2022, going to several municipalities, royal families, meeting chiefs, councillors, ministers of religion, social workers to brief them about procedures so that they can understand.”

Despite the challenges, Binang remains hopeful that he will eventually receive an ID and the assistance he needs to lead a better life.

Cutting Edge | Identity Documents and birth certificates