Home Affairs 'place keepers' illegal

2017-12-28 13:45
Queues at Home Affairs exploited.

Queues at Home Affairs exploited. (File)

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Pietermaritzburg - The Department of Home Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal has said it is investigating allegations that officials are involved in selling “numbers” to people queuing outside to enter their offices.

Outraged citizens who visited the Home Affairs offices on Church Street in Pietermaritzburg approached The Witness to complain that officials at the office “sold” numbers.

A resident, who did not want to be named, said one of the staffers had offered to “organise” a number for her for R150. “I was there last Friday and got turned away. When I was about to leave, one of the officials said I should leave copies of my documents. She offered to organise a number for me for the following day. She told me I had to pay.”

The resident said she believed some staff members were deliberately “slowing down the system” to make money off them.

Home Affairs KZN provincial manager Cyril Mncwabe said handing out of numbers posed a problem and they were currently investigating officials who allegedly sold numbers to people.

He said the service at Home Affairs should not be paid for.

Meanwhile, Mncwabe cautioned people to be aware that they should not pay for any services outside the Home Affairs offices.

The Witness was also alerted to the fact that there were people holding up spaces in the queues for others in exchange for money outside the Church Street Home Affairs office.

A resident who wished to remain anonymous as she does not want to be victimised, said she was approached by a woman from an agency who told her to make use of their service.

The resident from Imbali said last Thursday, she had woken up at 5 am thinking she was getting a head start in the long queue to make an identity document application for her 17-year-old son who will be going to Grade 12 next year.

“I arrived at Home Affairs before 8 am and stood in the queue for hours only to be told at 2 pm that only the first 20 people will be allowed to go inside. The rest of us were turned away.”

Not giving up, the woman said last Friday she returned to the offices again an hour earlier hoping she would be able to get in. “There were more than 10 people holding up spaces for others in front of me. It is very unfair because we wake up early and still cannot go inside.

“It seems like the only people who go in are the ones who either pay for tickets or buy spaces.”

Another resident said the reason the staff deliberately go on “slow mode” is to protect the income of the “place keepers” in the queue.

“The people who have paid these place keepers get preferential treatment. As soon as the last ‘paid up’ place keeper customer has been seen to, all systems suddenly go down.

“This indirectly encourages the public to pay the place keepers and preserve a spot in the queue.”

The resident accused the place keepers and staff of deliberately sabotaging the system.

The Witness contacted the agency concerned and a lady who answered the phone confirmed that they hold spaces in exchange for payment of up to R250.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese warned that the act of paying place keepers was illegal. Ngobese said Home Affairs needed to investigate this practice.

Read more on:    department of home affairs  |  pietermaritzburg

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