Woman, 61, 'dragged' from Home Affairs

2018-01-22 13:45

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A pensioner was traumatised after she was allegedly assaulted and forcibly removed from a queue by two security guards at Pietermaritzburg’s Home Affairs.

Synthia Ball (62) told The Witness she believes she was forced out of the line because of an alleged trend, previously reported on by the newspaper, that the public have been asked to pay bribes to secure favourable places in queues.

Police confirmed that a case of common assault was being investigated after Ball was allegedly “dragged and assaulted by two security guards after an argument”.

No arrests have yet been made, police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said.

Ball said she had gone to the branch earlier this month to collect a smart identity document. “I was in the line very early. Two men then came to me and told me I was in the wrong line, but I knew I was in the right one because I’ve been here before.”

She alleged the men grabbed her — one of them by the scruff of her neck — and removed her from the building.

“They expected me to join the line again, but I couldn’t.

“The line was snaking around [from Church Street] to Pietermaritz Street.”

Ball said she went back into the branch and complained to the manager, who then assisted her in collecting her smart ID.

She believed she was removed because of the alleged racket where clinets were paying for places in lines.

“What other reason could there be? Why would someone do that? I am a diabetic, I am a pensioner. You don’t treat people like that.”

Ball added: “I came forward to highlight this abuse. Hundreds of people are going to Home Affairs daily. Some are pensioners like me. How are they being treated?”

The Department of Home Affairs’ KwaZulu-Natal provincial manager, Cyril Mncwabe, had previously confirmed to The Witness that it would investigate allegations of corruption at the Pietermaritzburg office.

But last week he said the department was not looking into it, and questioned whether there was any proof of it.

“Are there people who can give us affidavits [and] the names of people who have given money to [officials]?” he asked.

Mncwabe did, however, invite the public to bring forward the names of any officials who may be implicated in such acts.

“We don’t have to work on widespread allegations. We want the name of the official implicated … and we will take action.”

He declined to comment on Ball’s alleged assault because it was a police matter.

The allegations about buying of places in queues are the latest in a series of problems the Pietermaritzburg branch of Home Affairs has been beset by over the years.

In 2016, the then minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, slammed the branch’s “shocking” service, The Witness reported.

He said he was struck by the long queues and promised action, criticising the management’s performance.

He said at the time the situation could be better managed.

The Witness has in recent months been inundated with claims from citizens that service has not improved, with some claiming to have waited an entire day, or longer, at Home Affairs without being served.

Mncwabe last week said every problem raised by Gigaba during his visit was attended to, but was unable to say what those were.

He suggested the reporter to speak to the journalist who wrote story about Gigaba’s visit to get an idea of what changes were made.

He suggested The Witness should “provide proof that nothing has been done”.

Read more on:    department of home affairs  |  pietermaritzburg

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