ALMOST 208 000 newly-issued identity documents (IDs) are gathering dust at Home Affairs offices across the country, as applicants are failing to collect them. Of the 208 000 IDs, 168 000 are smart cards, which will replace the green ID book. Statistics about uncollected IDs were revealed by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba at the handover of the revamped Ratlou Home Affairs office in Thaba Nchu last Wednesday (13/07). The premises was renovated as part of broader plans to bring government services closer to the people of Thaba Nchu and neighbouring areas. Gigaba has raised concerns that IDs gathering dust at Home Affairs premises countrywide will be needed by voters for the upcoming local government election on 3 August and has urged applicants to collect their IDs ahead of the upcoming local elections. He said uncollected IDs were mostly in remote regions with a high indigent list. He said local municipalities would be roped in to provide IDs to residents on the indigent list, with free transport to Home Affairs offices in rural areas. In a bid to provide efficient services, the ministry has requested that new mothers register their new-born babies at hospitals after birth to avoid long queues at Home Affairs offices. Gigaba admitted that the ministry was in need of more office space and staff members in order to bring services closer to the people.This year the ministry has opened four other workplaces in various offices, including one in Butterworth in the Eastern Cape.Gigaba has also announced that talks between the Lesotho government and the ministry were underway to allow Lesotho nationals working in South Africa since before September 2015 to apply for a Lesotho Special Permit. He said the four-year permit will allow Lesotho nationals to cross the border without having to get their passports stamped every time.Lesotho nationals with criminal records or those who have only started working in South Africa after September 2015 will not be granted the permit. Some of the application documents needed to attain the permit will include a letter of employment or proof of study, a police clearance note and a Lesotho passport.Gigaba warned South African employers hiring Lesotho nationals without the required documents. He stated that South African employers found guilty of employing Lesotho nationals without work permits would be penalised. Lesotho nationals with criminal records or those who have only started working in South Africa after September 2015 will not be granted the permit.