Athlone Train Station
You are Here: News -> Woman waits for more than a decade to get her identity back

Woman waits for more than a decade to get her identity back

Return to previous page.

Woman waits for more than a decade to get her identity back

by Nurene Jassiem
13 Jun 2006
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

Anna Smit (54), a domestic worker from Athlone, is a woman without an identity. She cannot open a bank account and she fears that no-one will know who she is if she dies. She has not voted in any of South Africa's democratic elections - because she still hasn't been given the bar-coded ID book she applied for in 1994.

Smit has been working for Joy Bergman in Athlone since she arrived in Cape Town from Elandsbaai on the West Coast more than 30 years ago. In 1994, Smit applied for her barcoded ID book so that she could vote in the country's first democratic elections. After her application, she received a letter from the Department of Home Affairs stating that her fingerprints were "wrong" and that she had to re-apply for her ID. Smit had her fingerprints and photographs taken again, but five years later, by the time the next general elections came rolling around, she had still not received her ID and was again unable to vote.

Since then, Smit and Bergman have made numerous trips to the Department of Home Affairs, losing a lot of money in the process of travelling to Home Affairs, having ID photos taken, and making payments for applications.

"I'm a pensioner and the process is expensive for Anna and I. It's also a tiring process because we have to use public transport and then walk up to the Home Affairs offices every time," Bergman says.

At one point they were referred to the Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria, where Anna was told to go back to her place of birth to try obtain a copy of her school-leaving certificate.

"We made several calls to the Department of Education, but nobody could help us," Smit says.

Home Affairs have also told Smit that they have her ID, but that there is a duplicate of it and that a criminal case related to the duplicate is pending. Bergman eventually contacted Professor Ben Turok, ANC Member of Parliament in Muizenberg, on Smit's behalf.

Turok's secretary wrote a letter to the Department of Home Affairs and it was agreed that Smit would have to re-apply for her ID yet again - but this time at the expense of the department.

Although Bergman is confident that this time the application will be successful, Smit still has her reservations.

"I have given up hope already. I can't open a bank account or even go on holiday because I don't have the right documentation.

"I fear that if I have an accident, nobody will know who I am," she says.

Bergman says that although she pays Smit's Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) money into an account every month, she won't be able to claim it if she does not get her ID.

"I want to thank Mrs Bergman for all her help and when I do get my new ID, she will be the first person I will thank," Smit adds wistfully.

Return to previous page.

From our Directory

Dickey's Locksmith also does engraving, name badges, laminating, faxing, rubber stamps and embroidery. They're situated opposite the Athlone Train Station. Call them on 021-6968706 or 083-7301599

Are you thinking of renovating or building a house? Executive Designs in Athlone can help by drawing up your plans and submitting them to the Council. Give them a call now on 082-9941695.

Rondebosch East Pharmacy is open extended hours on Saturdays. They are also contracted to most medical aids. Contact them on 0216968571/5.

Contact Us | About | Copyright | Advertising | Disclaimer

Website Design by BMSC-Online