Search for proof of existence

Roselin Hofmeester

A 76-year-old Manenberg woman is desperate to find any information about her relatives, so that she can finally apply for an identity document.

Roselin Hofmeester’s birth was never registered and she has limited memory of her paternal relatives. She remembers her mother’s first name is Anne, and her father was Abraham Mathesa. Her paternal uncles’ names are Harold and Willem Mathesa, and she remembers her cousin’s names – Nicky and Abe Mathesa.

Ms Hofmeester said she was told that her parents were not married, and that her paternal grandmother raised her from the age of three months. After her father’s death, when she was about six years old, she went to live with another family. She cannot remember if this family adopted or fostered her. It was from this family, that she was given the surname Van Der Merwe.

“I don’t know my mother. The woman who raised me told me that my parents were not married. I lost contact with my paternal grandmother and that side of my family, when I started to do sleep-in work as a domestic worker in Sea Point and Maitland. I remember I used to attend St George School in Kuils River, but that school closed many years ago. The Van Der Merwe family who raised me, used to live in Sarepta – I remember they used to live in the last road just before the dunes. I was told that my mother might be in the Macassar area,” Ms Hofmeester said.

A community worker, Maria Warries, has been trying to help Ms Hofmeester, whom she has known for more than 30 years. Ms Warries accompanied Ms Hofmeester to the Department of Home Affairs on several occasions over two months. She has also phoned all the people listed in the telephone directory under the Mathesa surname but none of them were relatives of Ms Hofmeester.

What is remarkable about Ms Hofmeester’s situation, is that she was able to work for a company, and get paid through a bank account many years ago, without an ID.

However, when the company closed down after she worked for them for 18 years, she could not claim her pension fund, as she did not have an ID.

Ms Hofmeester’s family was among those who were affected by the 1999 tornado in Manenberg, and she was given a housing subsidy and owns her house in Manenberg. She also got married – all without an ID. Her six children’s births are all registered.

Said Ms Warries: “This is a serious matter. So far our searches have led us to dead ends. Ms Hofmeester is asthmatic, and if anything should happen to her, then her children would not be able to inherit anything. Policies won’t pay out a cent without an ID. She also cannot apply for a state pension. Somewhere someone must know something.”

The Northern News contacted the Department of Home Affairs spokesperson, Mansoor Jaffer, who asked for Ms Hofmeester’s contact details, saying he would do his best to assist her.

If you can assist with information about Ms Hofmeester’s relatives, contact Ms Warries at 064 128 7137.