“Home Affairs said I was a foreigner because of my vaccination marks”

PE woman claims she was turned away; Home Affairs denies this

Photo of woman and her grandmother

Bongiwe Jokazi, seen here with her grandmother, Gladys Maswana, says Home Affairs turned her away because of vaccination marks on her arm. Photo: Joseph Chirume

By Joseph Chirume

8 March 2017

A Port Elizabeth woman says the Department of Home Affairs claimed she was a foreigner because of vaccination marks on her arm and refused to issue her with an identity document. The Department has denied this.

Bongiwe Jokazi, 30, of Zwide, said she went to the Port Elizabeth Home Affairs offices on 21 February with her grandmother. She had a letter from the district manager of the Department of Health requesting Home Affairs to issue her with an identity document, following a previous request from Home Affairs to get birth records from the clinic where she was born.

“I was put in a small room where two ladies checked both my shoulders. They went back and told their senior manager that I had dimples on my right shoulder. They said that those marks are signs of vaccination found on foreigners. The ladies’ superior then replied in English telling them that I was a foreigner trying to acquire a South African identity card illegally.”

“He then pointed at the letter [from the Department of Health manager] and said it was also a fake document. I heard them saying that my grandmother was lying that I was her daughter’s child. They dismissed us … I never expected such treatment from them. I thought they were professionals,” she said.

Jokazi said she started her application for an ID in 2016 at the Home Affairs offices in Port Elizabeth. “They told me to bring a birth record from the clinic where I was born. I visited the clinic and they told me that the records for 1986 were no longer in their filing system. I was referred to the Port Elizabeth Department of Health district surgeon who wrote a letter requesting Home Affairs to help me.”

Bongiwe’s grandmother, 61-year-old Gladys Maswana, said she was very upset.

She said Jokazi’s mother had died in 2008 and she was now taking care of Jokazi and her two children.

“I tried to explain this to officials at Home Affairs but they would not accept my statement. They said I was trying to register a foreigner claiming that she was my granddaughter, said Maswana.

Jokazi said without an identity document she could not find a job or apply for a house or a child support grant.

Contacted by GroundUp, Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Thabo Mokgola said: “We can confirm that this matter was a Late Registration of Birth case. The client was advised to return to the hospital and complete one of the documents that was missing. It is not true that she was turned back because of dimples [vaccination marks].”

Mokgola said Home Affairs had contacted Jokazi to inform her they would visit her school to verify the information she had presented. “The outcomes of the investigation will be communicated to the client upon finalisation.”