Home Affairs drama headed for film

2012-09-23 10:00
Charl Blignaut
One day towards the end of 2005, a young man called Kabelo Thibedi walked into Home Affairs in Market Street in Joburg, entered the office of a female employee, pulled out a toy gun and held her hostage for more than five hours.

A media storm erupted around Thibedi.

The drama that unfolded that day is now set to become a feature film called Identity, created by Intersexions director Rolie Nikiwe.

“The film is currently being scripted. I chose it because I was looking for a story that’s small enough so that I can tell it big time,” says Nikiwe.

“I want to make a commercial movie. So, Identity is a full-on hostage drama .”

Thibedi resorted to his drastic action after applying for an ID nine times and waiting three years for it, during which time he was fired from his job as a laboratory assistant for having no papers.

The case drew sympathy from across the nation and lobby groups challenged Home Affairs for a lack of service delivery and corruption.

But Nikiwe says Identity is not a political film.

“I view it as a human drama. I’ve met and spoken with Kabelo, who’s very shy.

It’s a story about this guy who just blends with his environment and isn’t noticed much.

“But this obstacle in his life cannot be removed unless he takes centre stage and deals with a problem that’s a problem to all of South Africa. He’s the solution. He found his power. That’s a strong story to me.”

After receiving a five-year suspended sentence for his actions, Thibedi is three months short of qualifying as a nurse. When 7 called this week, he was upbeat.

“I feel very good about the film and I believe in Rolie ... a lot. We’ve spent many hours talking,” he says, adding that although things at Home Affairs are “improving day by day”, it’s still a struggle for many people to get an ID.

Thibedi laughed when asked if he hopes he will find employment when he qualifies. “Of course. There are so many places to work. The country needs nurses.”

Nikiwe hopes to shoot Identity by next year.