“…I was told at home affairs that if I die and my ID is still blocked my family will not be able to apply for a death certificate.”

Samson Ndhlovu, father of three.

An increasing number of South Africans’ ID’s have been blocked by Home Affairs for various reasons. Experts say blocking a person’s ID without prior notification is illegal and are preparing a constitutional court case to challenge the state. The implications of having a blocked ID constitute a denial of many basic rights including, it would appear, the right to vote.

Special Assignment travels to Mpumalanga and speaks to people whose ID’s have been blocked yet whose names appear on the voter’s roll. Provided they still have their ID books, they will be able to vote next week. Over 500,000 people are alleged to have blocked ID’s, many of them are South Africans, but the number also includes naturalised immigrants. For most of these people, access to their own bank accounts has been denied overnight.

According to Lawyers for Human Rights, officials routinely block ID numbers upon mere suspicion of a person being a “foreigner”. Fraudsters and innocents alike are being deprived of their nationality until they can prove their national heritage. Due to strict documentary requirements, many are unable to provide such proof. A Home Affairs investigation into the matter can take over five years to resolve, while those who are affected live in a state of limbo.

State of Limbo is produced by Cleopatra Jones and will be broadcast in our new slot, Wednesday nights @ 21h30 on SABC3