Anger after Home Affairs manhandling

2020-03-03 14:59
The long queues outside Home Affairs yesterday afternoon.PHOTO: moeketsi mamane

The long queues outside Home Affairs yesterday afternoon.PHOTO: moeketsi mamane

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A 53-year-old woman was allegedly manhandled by a security guard at Home Affairs on Friday when she went to fetch her ID and passport at 6 pm.

Montrose resident Zeenath Ismail told The Witness on Monday that she was shoved out of the door by a security guard, who said she and other patrons could not enter the Home Affairs offices because they had closed.

Ismail said she was confused because to her knowledge, there were extended hours up to 7 pm on Fridays. Ismail said there were many people standing outside Home Affairs trying to get the guard’s attention, but he ignored them. She said some people tapped on the glass windows to ask why the doors were closed before time, but the guard continued to disregard them.

Ismail said when people who were inside came out, those outside would use the opportunity to poke their heads in to try and get clarity about the operating hours. “The guard was very rude to everyone. He shouted at those who peeped in and ignored those who tried to get his attention,” said Ismail.

Ismail said one of the people who were exiting left the door open while the guard was a distance away from his desk. She walked in, hoping he would listen to her request.

“I just wanted to collect my ID and passport. I wasn’t going to be too long,” she said, adding that when the guard noticed she had come in, he sped towards her and aggressively said: “Who said you can come in? Out!”

“He grabbed me by my shoulders and shoved me out the door, then banged it behind me. My cloak even got caught in the door,” said Ismail.

Ismail said on Monday she was upset because as a Muslim woman, no man should ever touch her to begin with. She also suffers from back pain and said this had worsened as a result of his actions. “I’m an elderly woman who was wearing a full hijab; how dare he lay his hands on me,” said Ismail.

Manager of Home Affairs Xolani Maphumulo condemned this behaviour by a staff member and promised to address the issue. He also said he would arrange to personally help Ismail get her documents when she was available.

Maphumulo said they often have problems with the public being forceful and wanting to enter Home Affairs, regardless of them being told that they can’t. He said he receives numerous complaints from the security guards about how difficult it gets to control the crowds.

“People force themselves in. We close the office early because of the many people who are already inside. On Friday, I told the guards to announce that we were no longer letting more people enter. The people who came late are the ones who were complaining that the office was closed before 7 pm,” said Maphumulo.

Maphumulo said on Wednesday he wished to clarify what ‘extended hours’ mean at Home Affairs.

“Extended hours do not mean someone can leave their home at 5 pm and run to the offices. The purpose of extended hours is to assist those who have been there since before 4 pm — and work until 7 pm to ensure they are helped.

“Our media statement clearly stated that people must go to Home Affairs early so that by the closing time, they are already inside and can be assisted,” said Maphumulo.

He said the public have misinterpreted the function of extended hours, which led to the current issue. “Realistically, we cannot help people beyond 7 pm because the staff need to go home, some use public transport,” said Maphumulo.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  home affairs

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