Home Affairs throws man out for bid to help

2008-03-10 00:00

A man who offered suggestions to help smooth out inefficiencies at Home Affairs in Pietermaritzburg was forcibly removed from their premises last week.

Francois Davel became concerned about the wellbeing of the people in the lengthy queues he came across during his two-week ordeal trying to obtain organise his son’s ID at Home Affairs.

People start queuing from 5 am. By 8 am when the doors open, the queue stretches right around the building, often with more than 250 people hoping to be served before the close of business at 4 pm. If their business is not finalised, they have to return the next day.

Davel (49) is a local businessman who trades in sprinklers. “I also trade abroad in places like Australia and East Asia and deal with a lot of development. That is partly why, when I saw that there was a need to develop Home Affairs, I tried to help,” said Davel.

He told The Witness that the plight of a pregnant woman, a woman with a two-month-old baby whom she had to breastfeed in public and a 95-year-old man in the poorly-ventilated building, struck a chord in him. Concerned, Davel responded to a sign directing people with problems to a Mr Luthuli.

“I phoned Mr Luthuli and explained that I had a problem waiting in the queues because, like many others’, my time is precious. Luthuli’s response was that he had a problem with people who don’t like to stand in queues,” said Davel.

But he did not leave it there; he wanted to be “part of the solution and not the problem” and requested to meet Luthuli, who obliged. Davel said he gave Luthuli a book about boosting morale and efficiency in the workplace.

Unsuccessful in collecting his son’s ID, Davel suggested to Luthuli that upon his return to Home Affairs two weeks later, Luthuli should join him in the queues to get first-hand experience of the wait.

Luthuli met him last Monday, but refused to stand in the queues. At this point, Davel started going around with a form that asked questions like: What time did you start queuing? What time did you get served? Are you happy with the service? Are there facilities to assist you when you get tired, want to visit the toilet, or feed a baby?

“Mr Luthuli was not impressed and first ordered the guards to tell the people not to speak to me, then took the forms that had been filled in away. Later he had me forcefully removed,” said Davel.

Luthuli said he is not authorised to give comment to The Witness and directed any queries to the head office in Durban, but The Witness was unsuccessful in obtaining comment there as repeated phone calls were not answered.

“I am not that man’s student and I have no comment,” said Luthuli.

The Pietermaritzburg Home Affairs office caters to a population of approximately 500 000 people.

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