I REFER to the article “Home affairs negligence - 18 February” by Precious Gumede.
I commend her for taking up the case of an elderly woman who has tried unsuccessfully for over three years to get the Department of Home Affairs to issue an error-free birth certificate that is urgently required by her granddaughter.
Now, as a consequence of the department’s negligence (in the absence of an explanation to the contrary by them), the desperate woman’s granddaughter is barred from writing her matric exams for which a correct birth certificate is a requirement by the Department of Education.
This recalls another of many examples of the department’s failings. A number of pupils, who excelled in their work, were awarded prizes by an independent organisation which entitled them to travel overseas to earn further recognition in some international event.
However, the department failed timeously to issue the children with passport clearance documents, which the very same department required. As a consequence of this bungle, the pupils were denied the opportunity to travel abroad and benefit from their hard work.
This requirement, which the department itself concocted, ostensibly to curtail massive sex trade in children from South Africa, was later shown to have been based on a perversion of the truth. However, there is no doubt that it raised more unjustified revenue for a notoriously negligent government department.
The Department of Home Affairs also has a shameful record of bungling death certificates. Certificates issued may state incorrectly that a deceased person died of unnatural causes, when in fact the death was quite natural and expected, or that the deceased was married whereas, as a matter of official record, he or she was divorced or unmarried.
Others are issued with incorrect birth or death dates or similar errors. In spite of the correct procedures having been followed diligently by the affected parties, the department fails to update or consult its records, and officials show no sign of caring about theirs or their colleagues blundering.
Children and bereaved people are suffering while lazy, incompetent, negligent, unsympathetic and even arrogant civil servants draw their salaries for jobs they do not deserve to hold.
In the case of the young, their studies or employment opportunities are jeopardised, while bereaved people have to struggle with lawyers because they are unable to close bank accounts and wind up estates.
In many cases these struggles with the dysfunctional department are protracted for months or even years, as in the instance of that covered by your reporter.