A 29-year-old blind man and his two younger siblings have appealed to the Home Affairs Department to help them apply for identity documents. The siblings from Maklerekeng in the Moutse area of Limpopo were forced to drop out of school and now depend on their grandmother’s social grant to survive. Their mother died in 2008 without an ID and their father is also deceased.
The Mahlaela siblings, aged 29, 23 and 20, say their lives have been an uphill battle due to a lack of birth certificates and identity documents. It is not clear why their late mother did not have an ID, but they say she made numerous attempts to apply for one while still alive.
The oldest sibling Shimane Mahlaela, who is blind, says they don’t have much information about their deceased father.
Mahlaela says their maternal grandmother, with whom they stay, has been trying to help them apply for IDs for years.
“Our grandmother has tried to help us get identity documents without success. We are always turned away at the Home Affairs office. I can’t even get medical attention because they need an ID to open a file for me. It hurts because I was supposed to be responsible for my siblings’ well-being.”
Mahlaela is also unable to apply for a disability grant because he does not have an ID. He says things are difficult, as their only source of income is their grandmother’s pension grant.
“This has affected me deeply. I even tried to commit suicide. I have become a loner and isolated myself from friends and social places. I’m confused. Things are tough at home because we survive on my grandmother’s social grant. I don’t know what would happen if she dies because her children might claim the house.”
Home Affairs Manager in Limpopo, Albert Matsaung, says the matter will be addressed through their late registration of birth process. The Provincial Social Development Department says it has also intervened.
Spokesperson Witness Tiva says they would like to see Mahlaela accessing a disability grant.
“We immediately deployed a team of social workers to this particular household for them to go and conduct an assessment or investigate what led to these three family members not to have identity documents. What worries us the most is that there is a 29-year-old man who is living with a disability and this man is not a beneficiary of Sassa. So, what we are going to do, we are going to compile a report and also ensure that we bring on board the Department of Home Affairs.”
Meanwhile, Matsaung says the late registration of birth process will first establish the siblings’ citizenship, which requires the presence of their next of kin and specific documents. He has advised them to once again visit their nearest Home Affairs office.