Home Affairs ‘not slow’

2017-01-12 10:07
The long line at the Home Affairs offices in Pietermaritzburg during Minister Malusi Gigaba's unannounced visit last year.

The long line at the Home Affairs offices in Pietermaritzburg during Minister Malusi Gigaba's unannounced visit last year. (File)

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Pietermaritzburg Home Affairs’ long and slow queues are the result of the large number of people, not poor service.

Brushing off scornful opinions of bad service by his department, Home Affairs provincial chairperson Cyril Mncwabe says the service at Pietermaritzburg Home Affairs has improved enormously since Minister Malusi Gigaba’s unannounced visit last October.

Mcwabe said on Monday, 227 people, including first-time ID applicants, people needing IDs reissued and passport applicants were assisted. He said on Saturday, during only four and half hours of operation, 54 people were attended to, or a person helped every five minutes on average.

“These figures are a clear indication that we are doing our utmost best to give efficient service. It shows that we are working hard,” he said.

He said the long wait in the queues is a result of the large number of people and the department is addressing this by dividing people into different queues for different services.

“Schools were on vacation and even working people had taken leave, so they had an opportunity to visit our office, that is why we have had so many delays,” said Mncwabe.

He acknowledged that those who are queueing outside the building may assume that nothing is being done inside.

“When looking at the statistics, we realise that there is a lot being done. When the volume is high, people experiencing slow movement in the queues will think we are doing nothing.

“The minister had expressed his concern over the long queues and the lack of communication between Home Affairs officials and clients.

“Now we have improved our customer service, the attitudes of our officials and communication,” said Mncwabe.

On Monday, reports surfaced that there had been pushing between people waiting in the queue outside the Home Affairs building.

Mncwabe said there were no reports of such incidents whatsoever. But apparently, frustrated patrons lost patience while standing in a queue that was not moving and caused a stir by starting to push one another.

Mncwabe admitted to experiencing a large number of people on Monday, but said the queue was well managed by a senior area manager.

“We understand that people become extremely frustrated. We often update them about progress inside.

“Sometimes when we experience large volumes the system becomes slow and overloaded.

“The only challenge we are currently resolving now is a plan to install a third photo booth, but other than that we can’t think of any other glitches,” said Mncwabe.

Gigaba visited the office in October to discover dire dysfunctionality, particularly when it comes to long queues.

Gigaba said the Pietermaritzburg office was among the worst Home Affairs service points in the country. The minister promised that some improvements would be made by the end of 2016.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  home affairs

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