The South African government is investigating the suicide of a young man who was refused the identity documents he needed to start a job.

A local official reportedly refused to issue the papers to Skhumbuzo Mhlongo, 22, accusing him of being a foreigner.

In the absence of his parents, he was looking after his four siblings.

The case prompted Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to break down in tears at a press conference. She suspects the official wanted a bribe.

She said she “would leave no stone unturned” in the investigation into the identity of the official.

The BBC’s Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg says the Department of Home Affairs has come under heavy criticism over the years for its inefficiency in issuing ID documents, birth certificates and passports, with some people claiming to have waited up to four years.

She points out it would be even more difficult to obtain the documents if you have no parents to vouch for your identity.

A senior delegation from the Department of Home Affairs has visited the office in Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal province, where his demand was rejected.

Mr Mhlongo had been due to start the new job at a factory which manufactures bird food on Monday.

He apparently left a suicide note before hanging himself.

Home Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mampoepa told the BBC that Mhlongo had been raised by his mother, who disappeared in 2000, leaving him to care for his younger siblings.

He had apparently been trying to get an ID card for some time without any luck.

“He did not have parents. He was the eldest in his family and needed the ID to secure a job as he was the sole bread-winner,” said Mr Mamoepa.

Mr Mamoepa told the BBC that Mhlongo had been told to bring someone who could vouch for his nationality.

“We understand he visited the office with an elderly man who shared his surname and told the official that served him that the man was his father.”

The official didn’t believe the young man’s story, tore up Mhlongo’s papers and called him a “kwere-kwere” – a derogatory term used for foreign nationals.



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