Passport application set-up ‘temporary’

2014-05-28 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG residents will be pleased to hear that standing in a long queue to apply for a passport is not a permanent arrangement.

The regional manager for Home Affairs, Thamsanqa Luthuli, has confirmed that passport applications being merged with identity document applications was just a temporary measure.

He said passport applicants usually apply through a live capture system — situated on the third floor of the Pietermaritzburg Home Affairs building — but the system nationwide (in all offices using live capture) had experienced IT problems.

He said they had instructed their staff to advise clients to either apply on the ground floor through the modernisation system, or to come back when the live capture system was back up and running.

“To my knowledge no client has been chased away,” the manager said.

Luthuli said if anyone was turned away, this was due to miscommunication by Home Affairs staff.

“We regret this and call for clients who want to apply for their passports to do so on the ground floor,” he said.

The manager said those who may have opted not to apply on the ground floor may have done so because they did not want to wait in the long queues.

“We no longer have the long queues which people experienced before the elections when people were applying for their smart cards,” he said.

A concerned resident from Howick, Debra Hutton, said the passport centre had been off-line since Thursday and when she called to find out if it was back on yesterday, she was told it was still down.

“We are getting nervous because we have booked for a church mission trip to Mozambique and we wanted to apply for our normal passports because it was less expensive than to do the emergency passport,” she said.

Hutton said they might end up having to cancel the already paid-for trip if the system does not come up soon.

But Luthuli insisted that they were processing passport applications and invited Hutton to apply on the ground floor today.

He said they will also be checking if their employees were giving the proper message to clients.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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