Kliptown residents finally receive their ID’s after waiting for 14 months.
Guardian Report Soweto

The Home Affairs Department, under the acting Gauteng Provincial Manager, Mr. Albert Matsaung, on Tuesday February 27, 2024 assisted Kliptown residents who lost their identity documents and birth certificates due to the fire that engulfed their belongings 14 months ago.

A fire broke out in Kliptown on October 10, 2022, leaving families in ruins. It was believed that a drunken stupor caused the fire, which killed two people. Subsequently, a task force was created to help the families who lost their livelihoods.

The victims were moved to Kliptown Community Centre, which has no lights, water, broken windows, or toilets, making their stay uncomfortable and unsafe, as it is alleged that young people sell drugs around the community center. After a few weeks, the residents were moved to an open space just less than 50 metres away from the community centre.

It was alleged that in November 2022 and the first week of January 2023, a request for exemptions was submitted to the home affairs provincial manager for a mobile truck to assist in re-issuing identification documents and birth certificates for minors. Mr. Matsaung denied these allegations.

On February 24, 2023, the Guardian Report gave Albert the contact details of a community leader to assist the department of Home Affairs. The community leader told us that the acting provincial manager called him once just to verify his identity, and that was it.

In an email communication with the office of Mr. Matsaung, we received an email on August 24, 2023, saying that the mobile office manager has been waiting for the community leader to submit a list of all affected people; however, Albert didn’t communicate with the community leader.

The fire victims only received assistance on February 27, 2024; it has been 14 months of suffering for the victims. A community member said, “The most challenging thing about this is that those who were in matric couldn’t get their matric certificate; they had to wait for over a year to get their identity document.” He further states that he was a recipient of the R350 grant, which he stopped receiving due to a lack of an ID, and that he lost a lot of job opportunities.

The community member said that the main reason that home affairs is helping them out is because national elections are in May and they want us to vote; if it weren’t for the elections, we would still be without assistance. 

Mr. Matsaung said “the reason for the delay is linked to the delay of the documentation that stakeholders were to submit and also an assessment of the documents needed by the victims, as their submission request for support should reflect exactly that need.”

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