Home Affairs glitches

2018-03-19 13:30
Office's improved performance has led to other difficulties - manager.

Office's improved performance has led to other difficulties - manager. (Sourced )

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A month after the Home Affairs office in Pietermaritzburg received praise for improving their service, it appears the things are back to square one.

On Friday morning an irate resident complained she was already on her seventh visit to the offices just to collect her passport.

Kathryn Ouzman said the service offered by Home Affairs was “appalling” with long queues “around the corner”.

“People have no option but to stand in these long queues all day. There are old people there, people with babies and pregnant women. No one cares. There are no toilets and no shelter. It’s disgusting. This morning I stood in the rain,” said Ouzman.

She said that on Tuesday there had been a “near riot” when Home Affairs decided to close its doors at 3.20 pm in the faces of people who had been queuing all day.

She said people were shouting that they were going to force their way through the doors when someone came out.

Ouzman said she had received an SMS about two months ago informing her that her passport was ready for collection but on each occasion that she went to fetch it, she had to leave empty handed as she could not get to the front of the “very slow” moving queue.

She also complained that no one from inside the office would come out to assist people or advise them what was happening.

On Friday morning she had pushed her way through the doors into the foyer and demanded to see the manager.

After a while she was taken to an office where the manager promised to “fast track” her case and invited her to fetch her passport that afternoon at 3 pm. She eventually received it.

The Witness published a story in January saying the department would be “taking steps to improve the service at its notoriously dysfunctional Church Street office”.

On February 14, The Witness published an article describing how staff at the city’s home affairs office received “heaps of praise after going the extra mile to help customers this week”.

The newly-appointed office manager, Xolani Maphumulo, said at the time that he was committed to make every effort to turning the office into a well-oiled machine.

“We know our capacity a day is 250,” he said.

If more people turn up “we will be transparent and ask people to visit other Home Affairs offices nearby instead of sitting in the queue and not get helped”.

Responding to the latest complaint on Friday, Maphumulo said that they had become “victims of our own success”.

He said the office had been processing few applications before he arrived but now they were processing more applications and so the number of collections had also increased.

He told The Witness they were processing around 1 200 ID cards a day. “There are no issues with the applications side but we are overwhelmed on the collections side. We can only assist around 200 people a day,” he said.

He said they had increased the number of computers at the collection point from two to four but that they were still looking at other ways to stop the queuing and long waiting times.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  home affairs

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