Some days you think that everything is going fine. Some days you know that things aren’t. Some days the world gives you a wake-up call. Some days you get told by your Government that you aren’t a citizen of your country anymore because the computer said so.
That last part is not a joke. My cousin went to the Department of Home Affairs today to renew his Passport for a trip we’re planning to Mozambique later this year. He was promptly informed that he needs to have a valid ID-book to do so. His ID-book is, however, missing, and so he to applied to get a new one. It was at this point where things got very interesting.
Now, firstly, my cousin was born and raised in sunny South Africa and his lived here for his entire life. He ownes a house and car, has a bank account, a telephone and cellphone account, and he was able to present them with a certified copy of his ID, birth certificate as well as his original (now expired) South African Passport and his South African drivers license. None of this is, however, good enough to contradict what the computer says.
According to the Home Affairs system, my cousin is not a citizen of South Africa. He has proof that he has been a citizen for more than 30 years, but because their computer system says so, he isn’t. They can’t tell him which country he is a citizen of and if he does not apply for and become a citizen once more, they are threatening him with deportation. I’m not sure where they’re going to deport a man without a country, but that’s what they say.
The problem with applying for citizenship is that in order to do so, he needs to have his passport and birth certificate from his country of origin, which would be the one he’s in at the moment and it’s the same one telling him he isn’t a citizen of. Furthermore, it takes 6 weeks to verify fingerprints which happens to be the amount of time that he is allowed to be in the country and if it turns out negative then he needs to apply for citizenship.
I would love to know how the department lost this information or what kind of mistake the IT guys made for this to happen. I always figured that information regarding the status of tax-paying, voting citizens is paramount to the government. After all, if they don’t have citizens, who are the Government governing?
P.S. As bad things go, at least the service at the particular office was good. They told him how to go about fixing the departmental and IT mistake (of epic proportions), so kudos to that office. A smile and solid help go a long way to making someone less likely to go Hulk.