Fraud is suspected to be behind the woes of a South African, who has been blocked from all official systems after being classed as an “illegal” immigrant.
Ncebakazi Leona Nompula, 37, is unable to access her bank account or register her company with SA Revenue Service (Sars).
The qualified chemical engineer was driven to contemplating suicide as a result of her plight.
“My kids will not have food until this is sorted (out). I (have considered) taking my own life because the country I was born in does not want me any more,” she lamented.
Nompula’s ordeal began in September last year when she went to the Alberton Home Affairs office to apply for a smart ID card.
“The lady at the (Home Affairs) counter told me their systems had me (listed) as an illegal immigrant.”
“This is despite having my green ID book in my possession, and having had two previous ID books and a passport,” Nompula told The Star.
The alleged theft of her identity emerged after a series of e-mailed correspondence between Home Affairs and Nompula, which were apparently intercepted by people purporting to be the director-general Mkuseli Apleni and former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba.
One of the e-mails, signed by “Mkuseli Apleni”, stated: “After series of necessary verifications on your documents, it clearly indicates that you’re a true citizen of this country (South Africa).
“Without any prejudice or delay on your request as it’s under processing, we hereby urge you to make a payment of administrative charges of R7 850 only to the Department of Home Affairs as it’s very essential to every individual or recipient of this regards, to enable me further the processing without delay (sic).”
In her efforts to clear the issue with Home Affairs, Nompula provided the department with documentary evidence of a copy of her mother’s identity book and the death certificate of her father who died in 2010.
Both documents were authenticated by the SAPS and contained valid ID numbers.
Nompula also provided a letter from a school principal and from a local chief, who confirmed she “is the bona fide child” in the district.
Despite her efforts, Home Affairs still could not change her “illegal” status.
Spokesperson Thabo Mokgola confirmed Nompula’s ID number might have been duplicated “for nefarious means”, and a “wide-ranging investigation” had been launched.
“We are aware that there are unscrupulous elements (creating) social media and e-mail accounts purported to belong to the minister of home affairs as well as the director-general of the department,” said Mokgola.
“We wish to caution our clients and reiterate that the department utilises official platforms to communicate with clients.”
“Prescribed fees for services are (listed) on our websites and those who seek further clarity are welcome to contact the department directly.”
He said the Gauteng provincial manager of home affairs had contacted the client.
Nompula confirmed she had been contacted by Home Affairs.
Asked whether the “nefarious” blocking of citizens and the attendant corruption was a regular occurrence, Mokgola responded: “We are not aware of such situations. However, the department has a zero-tolerance approach to fraud and corruption. Any official found to be in transgression of the law is dealt with accordingly.”
But Mokgola was unable to say when Nompula’s identity would be restored.
Nompula was scathing in her criticism of the department, saying the business she wanted to start in March – GEE Solutions – had stagnated as result of her plight.
“I was told I could not register it with Sars because I am blocked. When I go to the bank to get a letter so I can continue to establish the company, I am told that my ID has been blocked by Home Affairs – meaning I can no longer have access to my funds,” a distressed Nompula added.