Home Affairs service havoc
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Residents claimed they had queued for days for ID smart cards and passport applications and renewals, to be told that only 300 people would be served on a particular day.
In Pinetown, the scanners have been dysfunctional since June while on Tuesday applicants at the Umgeni Road branch criticised the department for poor service delivery.
Hundreds of people vented their frustration after they were told, by a branch official, that they could join the long queue at their “own risk”.
As the Daily News team arrived at the facility, an unidentified female official was addressing the angry crowd.
“The system has been off-line for about two weeks now, so it’s easier when people approach the branches closest to their residential area for services,” she said.
When she became aware of the team’s presence, the woman retreated into the building and referred the Daily News to the manager.
Residents became more agitated when they were told only 300 people would be served for the day.
Naren Maharaj, of Pinetown, said she had been at the branch since 5am for her daughter to apply for an ID smart card.
“Just after 10am, they told us that they had reached their 300-people target for the day. There’s no proof that they have served the 300 people they claim to have served,” said an irate Maharaj.
Verni Pillay, a Pinetown resident, said she had been trying to get her son’s ID smart card from the Pinetown branch since June.
“I was told then that the scanner was not working and I went back again today (Tuesday) and was told the same thing. I came here to the Umgeni branch and I find no joy.
“As decent citizens of the country they should not be turning away people who seek help. They should be doing whatever is needed to help the people, in line with the Batho Pele principles. They only want to spend time on tea and lunch breaks instead of earning their salaries,” Pillay said.
She said like many others she had taken time off from work during every visit to the Home Affairs offices.
Musgrave resident Jill Curran said having “runners” issuing forms while people were still in the queue would improve the service.
“People would simply fill in the forms while standing in the queue and this could make things more efficient. It is so frustrating to leave home early only to be turned away without receiving the service you need,” Curran said.
The Daily News had reported on similar complaints last month.
At the time, the department issued a statement saying it faced challenges with the live capture system for passports and ID smart cards.
The department had said this was owing to the Home Affairs National Identification System (Hanis) which had affected the turnaround times in some offices.
The department had said other services were not affected and technicians were working on the problem.
On Tuesday, attempts for comment from the department’s provincial and national spokespeople were unsuccessful.
The department’s national director-general, Mkuseli Apleni, also did not respond at the time of publication.