Some sex workers in Mzansi have been unable to get the Covid-19 vaccine and they continue to fear for their own and their clients’ health. The reason stems from a different problem – the absence of identity documents, without which they cannot register on the government’s computer system.
The Sisonke national movement of sex workers has been helping sex workers register for vaccination. But, says national organiser Katlego Rasebitse, they soon realised that their workers without IDs will not be able to register.
The electronic registration system for vaccination, known as EVDS, requires an ID number, a passport number, or an asylum seeker number.
Doris Mkwe, a 38-year-old sex worker from Freedom Square in Bloemfontein, said that she had not been able to register for vaccination because she does not have an ID number.
Struggling to obtain an ID
Mkwe further said that she had not had “any luck” getting her ID, despite numerous attempts. Her parents moved from Lesotho and died when she was a child. She has never had any kind of identity documentation.
“When I try to get an ID, I can’t because I don’t have anything to prove that I’ve been born in South Africa, like a birth certificate,” said Mkwe.
shE is concerned about her clients because she doesn’t think she will get an opportunity to get vaccinated.
“I’m still doing business, so I have to ask myself if I am affecting my clients.”
She said that the only thing she can do for now is to use a mask and to sanitise regularly.
Sisonke has urged the department of health to “reconsider the identification requirement during registration”.
Constance Mathe, coordinator of the sex worker movement Asijiki Coalition, had also encountered this problem, especially in Mpumalanga where sex workers live in rural communities. She added that it is difficult for sex workers in rural areas to have access to a home affairs office.
Original article published by GroundUp.