Queue jumping chaos

2018-01-11 13:55
"Can't do much", says Home Affairs.

"Can't do much", says Home Affairs. (File)

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The Home Affairs office on Church Street continues to come under fire from disgruntled members of the public who have called for immediate action by the national department.

Since The Witness published a story on December 28 about alleged illegal place-keeping practices in the queues outside Home Affairs’ offices, many more people have come forward, claiming they too have been approached by “agents” who offered to hold spaces for them in the queue in exchange for money.

Approached for comment Home Affairs national spokesperson Thabo Mokgola said: “We don’t condone any fraudulent activities and if any of our officials are suspected to be involved in such acts we call on the public to report them.”

Mokgola said it was difficult to devise a strategy to halt these activities, because they took place outside their offices.

“We discourage people from engaging in such activities because they disorganise the queues and affect those who have been standing in the queue for a long time.”

Pietermaritzburg businessman Colin Love said when he visited Home Affairs last month he was also approached by a place keeping agent.

Love said: “Place keeping is happening outside that office. I also received a card from a Patricia, who offered to stand in the queue for me for a fee.”

He said after numerous failed attempts to apply for his smart card ID he ended up going to the Pinetown office to process his application.

Joezette Mac Kay suggested that a stakeholder engagement was needed between department of Education and Home Affairs.

“Pupils who are 16 years old and require smart card IDs should have those done at school on specific days.

“This will reduce queues a great deal. And they should have IT officers at every Home Affairs so that when systems crash staff and people needing services don’t have to wait for hours.”

Nokuthula Mkhize from Dambuza also told of her horror when many others were placed in the queue in front of her at the Church Street office.

“I arrived at the office at 4 am. I was number 40 when I got there but as the day progressed I ended up being number 200. There was no hope of getting in,” said Mkhize.

She said it was then that it dawned on her that there were place keepers in the long queue.

“The agents were wearing green tags. They told me I had to pay R300 if I wanted to get in.”

Another resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said it took her three days of waiting in the queue to process her application. “I had to pay R1 000 to get inside the Pietermaritzburg Home Affairs office to make an application for my smart card ID.”

The resident alleged that Home Affairs officials, security guards and the street vendors outside the office were in on the illegal selling of spaces.

“Someone needs to monitor how that entire system is working. They are exploiting us and the powers that be must do something.”

Another resident Sbongiseni Mbusi from the Blackridge area said: “I have never seen such a place. People stand outside that office for hours and don’t get help.”

on Wednesday, disgruntled members of the public stood in a non moving queue for than three hours at the Home Affairs building at New Hanover. Applicants for new smart card IDs and passports queued from early in the morning. The early birds said they arrived at 5 am.

A verbal altercation broke out when the doors opened at 8 am when people at the front accused another group of apparent newcomers of jumping the queue. The doors were closed and only opened again when the situation calmed down. At around 8.20 am the first “batch” of 30 applicants were allowed in.

Processing their applications proceeded at a snail’s pace and three hours later the queue outside remained unmoving.

Several people reported it was their second or third attempt at having their applications processed.

A number had brought books and chairs in preparation for another long wait.

From inside the building no information was forthcoming for the long delay. Several people gave up in disgust to return another day.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  home affairs

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