A woman with no Identity

Garry Hertzberg.

ZINHLE was born, like the rest of us, on a specific day and in a specific place.

She had a mother and father who were both South African. However, on paper she does not exist. She does not have a birth certificate or an ID book and she does not know any of her family members. She has estimated her age and birthday and has a vague recollection of her youth in KwaZulu-Natal.

Zinhle’s father abandoned her and her stepfather burnt her mother to death. She remembers having an older sister said that Zinhle was born in 1979, but like all of the facts relating to her childhood, she is uncertain. This sister left many years ago and Zinhle has not seen her since. Her life sounds too tragic to be real and she has lived through years that are too trying to comprehend.

Zinhle has mothered seven children in her life and is currently caring for a child who is only a few months old. She lives in a shack and has spent many years of her life without a home. She sits on street corners with her baby, hoping that the child will draw a sympathetic eye. The majority of the money she receives from begging is used to feed her child and buy nappies.

Besides Zinhle’s vague recollection of her childhood in KwaZulu-Natal, she has vaccination marks on her arm and tribal markings on her face, which confirm she grew up in South Africa. This could be used to help build a case for Zinhle and prove that she is, in fact, a South African citizen.

Citizenship by birth and descent are legal rights for anyone who can prove the facts of their birth and parentage. Her best bet is to write a letter to the minister of home affairs, imploring him to give her an identity.

Even though Zinhle has suffered through years of turmoil on South African soil, she does not exist on any database. She is practically a ghost, taking it one day at a time on the outskirts of some of the harshest streets in the world.

There just doesn’t seem to be a solution to this tragic case, however, all avenues are being pursued.

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Daniella Potter
News Editor

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