Yolandé Stander WEEKEND POST REPORTER firstname.lastname@example.org
MORE than 300000 Eastern Cape residents will not be able to vote or collect their pensions or any form of grant, due to uncollected identity documents at the Department of Home Affairs.
It has emerged that 340211 Eastern Cape residents have failed to collect their ID books at 51 Home Affairs offices in the province. This has resulted in a massive backlog at these offices and has left thousands of residents not able to fulfil basic needs.
This information was made available after a parliamentary question in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
In Nelson Mandela Bay alone there are 41438 uncollected ID books. In Buffalo City there are 24106, Mthatha has 22378 and Tabankulu has 24106. Other towns with more than 10000 unclaimed ID books each include Middelburg, Lusikisiki, Bizana, Queenstown, King William’s Town, Uitenhage and Butterworth, with Mdantsane and Ngcobo with just below 10000.
Identity documents form a vital part of every citizen’s daily activities as all transactions, whether private or public, require positive identification.
Without an ID citizens are not able to claim a grant for an aged person or a child who needs to go to school, receive a food parcel, buy a cellphone or open a bank account.
Eastern Cape DA MP with the NCOP Elza van Lingen said that with the approaching 2011 municipal elections it was imperative that all South Africans over the age of 18 had an ID book so they could register as voters.
Nelson Mandela Bay municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said it was “frustrating” that residents were not collecting their IDs. “Just one of the problems that come in with this is with our Assistance to the Poor programme. We provide free services to these residents and have helped 200000 over the years, but we can only help them if they have an ID. We encourage residents to go and collect their documents.”
Uncollected IDs also put severe pressure on the department.
“Once the ID books have been collected, files can be closed and archived. This makes space for new applications and a more efficient department which will then be able to concentrate on new applications,” Van Lingen said.
“Over and above the negative effect uncollected documents have on the applicants, it must be demoralising for the officials, because you do all the work and the public is apathetic about collecting their documents.”
She believed the reason for the large number of uncollected IDs was that applicants got despondent as there was no system to notify them when their documents were ready.
Despite repeated requests, the Home Affairs Department did not respond with comment.