By Tariro Washinyira
Nathi Lepelesana used his ID to vote in SA elections. Now he’s been told he’s a Lesotho citizen
A 49-year-old Free State born man, Nathi Lepelesana, has been living in limbo for five years after the Department of Home Affairs blocked his Identity Document (ID).
Lepelesana got his ID in 1992 and used it to vote after 1994 and to open bank accounts, apply for a passport and obtain life cover.
In 2014 he misplaced it. He went to Home Affairs to apply for a temporary ID, intending to use it for voting since it was election time, only to discover that his fingerprints had been taken out of the biometric system. “The biometric system cannot identify me as a citizen. I was basically flagged not as a South African.”
Lepelesana’s biological parents died when he was about two years old. He was raised in Ladybrand by an uncle, who helped him apply for his identity document in 1992 and left him with an affidavit about Lepelesana’s upbringing and biological parents.
He claims Botshabelo Home Affairs has held many interviews with his family and relatives but with no results. The case was referred to Bloemfontein Home Affairs which advised him to go to Lesotho to renounce citizenship and become a citizen of South Africa by birth. He explained that he is not from Lesotho but Home Affairs told in Bloemfontein him his birth could have been registered in Lesotho. “This made sense because I am told by my late uncle that my mother was originally from Lesotho and my father was a South African,” Lepelesana said. So he went to Lesotho, and renounced Lesotho citizenship.