A PARLIAMENTARY committee has called for an outright ban of cellphone use by Home Affairs officials at the department’s front desks. Portfolio committee on Home Affairs chairperson Hlomani Chauke urged the department to consider the ban during working hours following an “excessive amount of complaints”. “It is unacceptable that the public spends excessive amounts of time at Home Affairs offices while officials spend a disproportionate amount of time busy with their cellphones,” he said. Chauke said the grievances pointed to poor public service by officials. He said poor service was also observed at ports of entry across the country. “This is more concerning because the president has anchored his economic growth drive to tourism, which will be undermined by poor service,” he said. Chauke called for the nationwide implementation of a draft framework that would give guidelines on the use of cellphones at front desks. The framework would include guidelines on how officials should be contacted in cases of family emergencies. Chauke said the committee was aware one of the major causes of long queues was unreliable IT software. “But professional service at the department must improve,” he said. In March last year, a video of a Home Affairs official using social media while stamping documents went viral. In the video the official can be seen distractedly checking a passport while focusing on her phone where a Facebook feed is open. Then minister Malusi Gigaba tweeted that he was investigating the incident. — News24..