‘We need our IDs back from mashonisas to vote’

By Doreen Mokgolo

With the national elections looming on 29 May, 40-year-old Dipolelo Kganya* is upset that she will not be able to cast her vote because a loan shark is holding her identity document. 

Kganya* (not her real name) is one of many residents in Duduza, Ekurhuleni, who have given their IDs, Sassa cards and bank cards to mashonisas as security to ensure they repay the money they borrowed. 

According to the National Credit Act, this is illegal, but many overlook it because they are desperate.

The Home Affairs Department can issue temporary IDs on the spot for R70. Temporary IDs are accepted at voting stations, and people can apply for them at any Home Affairs office. The process is subject to verifying the applicants’ fingerprints.

Kganya said she took a R2,000 loan at the beginning of the year to buy her three children’s school uniforms.

“We survive on their social grant and the piece jobs I do washing people’s clothes in the area. Unfortunately, I don’t qualify for a bank loan.

“Out of desperation, I resorted to loan sharks in the area for help, hoping to be able to have paid up the money in three months. But life has been difficult.

“The money has to be paid back with 50% interest, and if I don’t pay, he adds another 10%, which makes it more difficult to pay off the loan,” she said.

The mother of three said it pains her that, for the first time since the democratic elections, she won’t be able to cast her vote.

In an interview with Scrolla.Africa, Ward 86 ANC councillor Nsizwa Mekgwe said the mashonisa business is prevalent in the area.

“This is not a new phenomenon; we receive complaints during the periods leading to the Sassa grant collection dates and election time.

“In recent weeks, my office has received requests from desperate residents to help them get their IDs back from loan sharks so they can vote.

“We have rolled out a campaign to negotiate and collect the IDs from the loan sharks, and if we fail, we will involve law enforcement,” he said.

Mekgwe said they decided to intervene as part of their campaign to ensure that as many people as possible participated in the elections, irrespective of which party they supported. 

Pictured above: Councillor Nsizwa Mekgwe.

Image source: Supplied

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