- Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has suspended certain critical services, including applications for new IDs, passports and all marriage services.
- Motsoaledi said between March and December 2020, 532 staff members tested positive for Covid-19.
- In the first eight days of January 2021, about 116 employees tested positive and in the first 10 days of this year, the department lost seven.
Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has temporarily suspended certain critical services, including applications for new IDs and passports.
Only matriculants may apply for an ID, while passport applications will only be accepted from those who are allowed to travel under the amended regulations.
Motsoaledi said the suspension was forced by the increasing number of Department of Home Affairs employees who have tested positive for Covid-19.
"From 1 Jan 2021, our statistics are alarming. Out of the 412 offices, 266 offices had to close at some point since the lockdown began in March 2020 because [of] staff members testing positive. Some offices even closed more than once.
"This [has] led to a situation where out of the 5 734 employees, 4 502 were affected one way or the other. Either they were infected, or they were contacts of those who were infected or came from families where somebody was infected."
He added whenever a staff member tested positive, those who were in contact with him or her, including clients, have to be traced and the office closed for decontamination.
"Between March and December 2020, a total of 532 staff members tested positive, mostly from Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. In the first eight days of January 2021, we already had 116 staff members who tested positive and mostly from the same provinces.
"In the first 10 days of this year, we have already lost seven front office employees. All this is happening when the issuing of death certificates is increasing exponentially.
"All indications are that at the end of January, we will have had even more death registrations than we had in December 2020," said Motsoaledi.
Of those who visited home affairs offices daily, 29% are people who collect smart IDs, 16% apply for smart IDs, 11% for the issuing of birth, marriage and death certificates and 10% are there to apply for temporary IDs.
"The department has decided to temporarily suspend certain services. This is unfortunate, but we are forced by circumstances. In choosing which services to suspend temporarily, we were guided by some form of statistics.
"The department has suspended application for smart IDs except for matriculants, application for passports, except for those permitted to travel, [and] marriage services will be suspended until further notice," he added.
Motsoaledi pleaded with people to only collect IDs if they were specifically invited by an SMS.
He said the registration of births and deaths would be done at health facilities.