A mix up with documentation has resulted in an elderly Eastern Cape man being registered as deceased at the Department of Home Affairs when in fact he is very much alive. It is believed that documents were submitted fraudulently using his name.
As a result, 64-year-old Sisa Ntsokwana from Centane has been unable to access any social grants or services for almost a year and a half.
It may seem like a re-enactment of the old popular television drama series titled “Hlala Kwabafileyo” of an old man who was mistakenly declared dead.
For Ntsokwana, the day he was turned away from a pay point after being told he was dead still haunts him. He rushed to Home Affairs to address the issue, but they confirmed their records had him listed as “deceased.”
“I was told I am dead. These are the documents of my death,” Ntsokwana says.
His wife, Mavis Ntsokwana, is also affected by the bungle as the abridged death certificate declares her a widow.
“This has ruined my life as well. I cannot go anywhere. Even a simple thing as going to a clinic, I have to sign under widow while I am not a widow.”
Ntsokwana says he has been sent from pillar to post by officials at Home Affairs and Sassa in Centane since 2020.
The provincial Home Affairs Department has apologised and says the matter could take a while as their system is not automated.
Home Affairs Provincial Manager, Gcinile Mabulu, Home Affairs Provincial Manager, says records have to be retrieved from head office before the department can apply for a remedial.
“For the department to apply remedial over the matter, records have got to be retrieved from the head office. Unfortunately, our records are not yet digital but manual. It takes a long time for officials at the head office to finally land on the records that are required. It is not in our competence as the province. We always rely on the head office. So I always try my level best, even when I’m at the head office in times of lockdown, I always go there to try and resolve them. We are sorry and really sorry for having taken so long. However, the matter is on my desk I will try my level best.”
The provincial Sassa office says they will conduct an investigation as to why it has taken so long for the error to be rectified.
“We made contact with Home Affairs and they agreed that we must take the old man to their offices in Butterworth. As I am talking to you, his fingerprints will be leaving for Pretoria so that the status of the old man can be changed to an alive person. As soon as we received status from Home Affairs, that his status is indeed amended; he will be paid from July last year (2019) until August. But for the time being, we have activated his grant using our regulation which makes provision for all those who don’t have adequate documentation to be paid for September. In the meanwhile, we will give him given social relief in form of food parcel to eat in the meantime,” says provincial head of Sassa Bandile Maqethuka.
Ntsokwana says the matter has impacted on his health.