Not long ago an American citizen protested the political and economic situation in this manner. It hardly made a ripple in the mainstream media.
Skhumbuzo Mhlongo publicly set himself on fire and then committed suicide last week after a government official tore up the ID papers he needed to start his new job at a bird seed factory. He had been trying to get those legally required papers for years.
The 22 year old committed suicide after being refused the identity documents he needed to start a job on Monday.
In his suicide note, Mr Mhlongo explained how an official had torn up his ID application, calling him a foreigner.
The minister said she suspected an official had expected a bribe.
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.
Mr Mhlongo, who was buried in Hillcrest near Durban in Kwa-Zulu Natal Province, had been due to start the new job at a factory which manufactures bird food on Monday.
Mr Mamoepa said the Department of Social Development assisted the family with the burial arrangements. Mr 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 and had been told to bring someone who could vouch for his nationality.But the official did not believe that the man he brought along was his father, tore up Mr Mhlongo’s papers and called him a “kwere-kwere” - a derogatory term used for foreign nationals.
He apparently left the suicide note before hanging himself.
Little, nagging, piecemeal government regulations and state bureaucracy quietly erode opportunity and slowly destroy lives. The world’s poor bear a heavy burden. It’s rare that the tragedy of this quiet tyranny is so vividly tangible. And we forget too often.