I know what the Department of Home Affairs here in the Eastern Cape is like and I know what to expect, however, today’s visit was a complete shock to the system. It’s somehow managed to be worse than it already was. The woes begin before you even get to the entrance. After a struggle getting through taxis parked in the middle of the road, cars parked at any random angle on the pavements, being hounded by street sellers and car guards I finally made it to the filthy entrance.
This place is a disgrace to the human race. Filthy floors and walls to match, liquid on the floor that could have been spilt cool drink or even urine that would match the stench inside this building.
Summed up in two words – Filthy chaos. No help in sight, nobody at the information desk, no forms or pens. Just a bunch of unrelated papers, an empty chair, and a computer monitor flicking away desertedly.
After standing in queue for some time, I was assisted by a lady, at the side. I told her what I wanted and exactly what my situation was, and she proceeded to pull out a form and fill it in. I wanted to choke at every spelling mistake she made, despite all details sitting right in front of her on paper. Why was I not allowed to do this myself?
I sure as hell was not going to steal the paper and pen. I would have even saved the department paper by writing and spelling correctly the first time! I was sent back to the queue to wait my turn to be assisted at the next counter. One after one, people behind me in the queue got called up to the counter, to my utter disbelief. I’m not one to keep quiet in these circumstances, but I was not comfortable in pointing this out to anybody as I was feeling rather unsafe and intimidated by the surroundings and situation.
Finally somebody ventured out the “party” in the back office eating chips and sat down at a vacant counter and summoned me over. I stood waiting in front of her while she snorted what sounded like a weeks supply of snot up to her brain, fiddled on her cell phone, removed her laptop from the bag, booted it up, put a cd in, and then decided to actually help me.
She took my form, took my fingerprints and printed a verification paper. I was then shooed back to the end of the queue.
Finally it was my turn again. Off to another counter I went, handed all the forms and photos and ID book to the lady. She could not understand where I got married, as the first assistant was unable to spell the country’s name, even with my aid, and even with the correct spelling on paper right in front of her.
So I explained everything to this current lady assisting me and she looked at me as if I was stupid and said I have to report my name change before I can apply for a new ID. Which is funny because that is not stated on the DHA website. (surprise surprise). She sent me packing with all my forms, upstairs to room 113. The horrid home affairs staircase, how I loathe it. Every step up feels like something is going to cave in and you will fall and land a century back in a pit of filth.
The lady at the desk in room 113 apologized, saying that she had no idea how to help me. So I had to wait again while she phoned for assistance. Nobody answered her call (surprise surprise), so she had to leave and locate help herself. After much waiting in a dirty office filled with many South Africans personal information at my disposal, she returned and told me that I need to send all my documents to the main office in Pretoria, which could take months.
If I didn’t know any better (about our governments incompetence), I would have looked around her office for cameras, because surely this was a joke.
Why is this information not available? Getting information via phone is almost impossible. The information is not available on the websites of DHA either. Why do I have to waste my time and money and go through this lengthy painful process to find out this rather simple information?
I have just become that much more ashamed of this incompetent government.