A Cape Town woman was forced to undergo a genital and breast inspection to verify she is indeed female after the Department of Home Affairs erroneously recorded her gender as male on her abridged birth certificate.
In addition, the department listed Sibongile Nongalo, 23, who is a mother of two children aged two and seven, as an illegal immigrant.
Along with a number of other difficulties the situation as created for her, Nongalo was also forced to drop out of school in Grade 10.
She now lives with her children in a one-bedroom shack in Du Noon where she helps her cousins to run a tavern.
She has since 2008 tried to rectify the gender on her birth certificate so that she can obtain an ID book, but home affairs have still not managed to help her.
West Cape News has seen the erroneous birth certificate and receipts of payment made to home affairs to have her gender rectified.
Nongalo said she was instructed by a home affairs official in Cape Town to go to a doctor to verify that she is indeed a woman, and submit the doctor’s letter to the department. Despite doing this, her birth certificate has not been changed.
“The doctor checked my vagina and felt my breast to verify they were original Then he asked me why home affairs say I’m male,” she said.
She said when she submitted the doctor’s letter, an official at home affairs told her to come back after three months – in June – to collect her new birth certificate. But when she did so she was told that she was listed as a foreign national on their system, and again said a doctor’s certificate verifying her gender was required.
“Since then I have given up. I’m done. The problem is my two children don’t have birth certificates because I don’t have an ID,” she said.
Approached for comment, home affairs spokesperson David Hlabane promised to investigate and resolve the matter.
“Thank you for drawing our attention to this matter. We have referred it to our civic services at head office so that it can be investigated and duly resolved. We will provide a report once the investigation has been completed,” said Hlabane. — Peter Luhanga