A state of statelessness

Published: 16/Feb/2015
Source: The New Age

Nelisiwe Mathe does not have a South African ID and her one-year-old baby cannot get a birth-certificate, so, as a result, together they are two stateless people born in South Africa, living in Tembisa.

The 23-year-old has been frequenting Home Affairs offices for the past four years, before her child was born, to try to get her ID document, only to be told that her ID number had been issued to another person. Mathe had to drop out of school because she could not register for her matric exams. She said she could not find work, open a business or even a bank account because her South African citizenship was not confirmed.

Mathe, although technically stateless, has a better chance of her case being resolved because an ID was issued in her name but ended up with another person.

For thousands of people who were either born outside the country, orphans, children of illegal immigrants and children of couples from countries with strict citizenship laws such as Cuba, where you lose citizenship after two years of being outside the country, statelessness is an everyday reality.

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Themes: Statelessness
Regions: Southern Africa, South Africa
Year: 2015