Residents angered by Home Affair’s queues

2018-06-12 06:01
PHOTO: nosipho mkhizeThe Home Affairs office in the Pinetown CBD.

PHOTO: nosipho mkhizeThe Home Affairs office in the Pinetown CBD.

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WAITING for hours on end just to renew your passport or apply for an identity document has many Upper Highway residents up in arms.

According to residents who visited the Pinetown Home Affairs office recently, they are made to wait hours and sometimes are not attended to and are told to return the next day, only to relive the same experience.

An angry KwaDabeka resident who wished to remain anonymous said he has a lot of concerns about the Pinetown Home Affairs and urged the national Department of Home Affairs to intervene.

He said: “There is a lot going on in that department and the minister needs to pay a visit one day to see for himself. Regardless of the high crime rate in that vicinity, the staff members are working at their own pace and some security guards are making money while we stand in long queues.

“When I went to apply for my identity document (ID) I left home at 5 am and got to Home Affairs at about 5.30 am to get a place in the queue because the offices open at 7 am and by then the queue is already long. On that day I finished at around noon because people who came from nowhere kept cutting the queue. When I asked others about this they told me that people actually pay the security guards from R50 to R250 in order for them to cut the queue and be served first.

“I was angry by this so I approached the security guard about this matter, however, he just stood there and kept quiet and pretended that he didn’t know what I was talking about. I was hungry, dehydrated and tired and I woke up early because I didn’t want to spend the whole day in the department.

“The queues at that department are ridiculous. They have the longest and slowest-moving queues I have seen. I plead with the minister to sort out this problem because people who come from the Highway and Upper Highway areas use this Home Affairs Department as it is the closest.”

Another resident who also did not want to be named said she waited for four hours in the queue to renew her passport and when she finally got to the front of the queue, she was told to return the next day as they had reached capacity for the day.

“This is madness, we stand for hours and then are told to come back. As if I have another entire day to waste.

This needs to be sorted out immediately,” said the resident.

Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Thabo Mokgola said the department is not aware of the situation, however, Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba has launched a campaign called the “War of Queues” to combat these sort of problems.

Speaking on behalf of the minister, he said: “This will be a critical component of concerted efforts to ensure citizens and other clients are served professionally when they seek access, in person or digitally, to the services we offer.

“How we serve is at the heart of building a capable developmental state envisioned in the republic’s framework for development — the National Development Plan: Vision 2030.

“Home Affairs is a key enabler of the major elements of a developmental state that we together strive to build. Serving a population of 56 million and many immigrants and tourists, it collects and manages data on the identity and status of citizens and foreigners sojourning in the republic. Thus, it is characterised as ‘a custodian of identity and status’.

“While Home Affairs has had tremendous successes in reducing turnaround times for the production of documents, the critical challenge for us now is to reduce the amount of time clients spend in our offices. In discharging our mandatory duties, we were concerned by queries from members of the public and journalists unsettled by the time spent at our offices. We heard your cry.

“Among other things, informed by the action plans the department is finalising, we will commission a customer satisfaction survey, get the client contact centre working optimally, find a solution for unpredictable walk-in clients and for front office space, explore possibilities of a new shift system, attend to the unstable system, scale-up unannounced visits by senior managers to offices, improve workflow and beef up communication with clients.

“It is important to note these will not be quick-fix interventions and thus plead for your patience while we implement these measures.”


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