Getting an ID can be harder than you think

One of the ongoing interventions by the Streetscapes team has been to help people in the hotspot up in Van Riebeeck Park apply for ID cards when necessary. When living on the street, it can be difficult to keep important documents safe all the time. And an ID is essential when looking for work.

You might wonder why anyone would need assistance to get an ID, but, as we all know, dealing with officialdom can be difficult.

Home Affairs staff deal with large numbers of people every day and are often impatient: not everyone understands how the system works, where to go, what to do first. Not everyone is entirely literate (and even when one is, filling in forms and understanding the process is not easy!) So it can be an intimidating process.

Some people know their ID numbers off by heart, but others do not, which means that they will need more assistance to prove their identity (for instance, getting a copy of a birth certificate) before applying for an ID. Each step of the way can be a minefield when one is unsure of one’s ground.

Streetscapes social worker Babalwa has been invaluable in negotiating these issues for the people she has been helping through the pilot project. She is getting to know the security staff at Home Affairs (often the first people the public encounters when going there) and is gradually persuading them to look out for and assist ‘her’ people. 

One also needs a cell phone number as Home Affairs smses the applicant when the ID card is ready for collection: another task that Babalwa has taken on for those who do not have a cell phone.

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Safer Streets - Better Together

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