Somewhere in Cape Town 'there is a grave with my name on it'

21 May 2020 - 09:37 By Sandiso Phaliso
Amos Zono is listed as deceased by home affairs after a person with the same name as him was declared dead.
Amos Zono is listed as deceased by home affairs after a person with the same name as him was declared dead.
Image: 123RF/oneinchpunch

According to the department of home affairs, Amos Zono died on May 10 last year.

However the Peddie resident, 57, who is very much alive, is boiling with the frustration of trying to untangle the snarl in the red tape.

It was in 2017 that Zono found out he was sharing his name and ID number with someone  living in Cape Town.

For two years he tried to have the situation rectified, both in Peddie in the Eastern Cape and at the home affairs offices in Cape Town.

While he was there in 2018, he even went as far as trying to to locate his namesake, but all attempts failed.

I have missed out on many job offers because I don't have an ID. Now the government is providing food parcels and unemployment relief, but as a dead person how can I benefit from all this? Somewhere in Cape Town there is a grave with my name on it

Then last year, he learnt that the person sharing his name and ID number died on May 10 2019. Unfortunately, that was when the government saw fit to classify him deceased as well.

Being “dead”, particularly as an unemployed person, is less than ideal, as Zono is finding out the hard way.  

“I have missed out on many job offers because I don't have an ID. Now the government is providing food parcels and unemployment relief, but as a dead person how can I benefit from all this? Somewhere in Cape Town there is a grave with my name on it,” he lamented.

He acknowledges the possibility that two people with the same name could even share a birth date. But this should not mean they should share an ID number, and he refuses to accept that.

“It's  just believable that there were two of us, but an ID number should be unique.”

Zono's brother, Bonakele Zono, told DispatchLIVE how difficult it was for the family to register him for life insurance policies.

“We are on the verge of giving up. He has asked for help but none is available. This is scaring us because we don't know what other future problems this will bring,” said Bonakele.

Eastern Cape home affairs department manager Gcinisile Mabulu said there was a history behind such mix-ups.

“[There was] corruption within the department by unscrupulous officials sifting through the national population register for any number to use for buying things or opening fraudulent accounts.”

He said these criminal acts had been occurring ever since 1986, when the department left behind the hated “dompas” system.

“Before the advancement of the home affairs system, when someone was unable to pay their debts they could go for another ID number to elude the debt-tracking system, or even to advance the number of years to prematurely access the social welfare grant.

“There are still some remnants of these practices, with clients coming forward with complaints of duplication, which we resolve over time. We have to trace records that are still manually archived,” said Mabulu.

“Zono may have retained and kept his duplicate ID, and probably only got to realise the duplication when applying for a reissue.”

DispatchLIVE


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