Home Affairs spokesperson David Hlabane said the reason their computers were offline was due to an upgrade conducted on the Live Capture System for smart card identity documents and passports. However, he said, all other services and transactions were available, such as the issuing of birth, marriage and death certificates.
“The system upgrade affected all the 193 modernised offices that are on Live Capture, from last Friday, March 29, at 3pm. The offices were to be back online on Monday, April 1.
“However, after the upgrades, there were some technical glitches and the offices were still offline. The offices are back online, although we are still working on stabilising the system following the upgrades,” Hlabane said.
However, the Daily News had received complaints about the computers being offline before March29.
Margi de Kock, a pensioner from Morningside, said the Umgeni Road office was offline on March26. On querying the matter, she was told that the system had crashed.
“I was also told to go to other offices, but I was informed that those were also offline,” De Kock said.
She said she had gone to Home Affairs to renew her passport because she wanted to travel soon.
De Kock said the staff had been left to deal with the irate public.
Another hopeful traveller, Prethumb Bechan, 65, said that three weeks ago he got up as early as 5am to go to Home Affairs in Umgeni Road to renew his and his wife’s passports, and to get a smart card ID for her.
“The computers worked for about an hour and then we had to sit and wait. Then at around 1pm, staff told us they were offline,” Bechan said.
He said he had returned there every day except Thursday that week. Eventually he tried the Park Rynie and Isipingo offices, which were also offline. “I got lucky on Friday morning when I went to Umgeni Road - because of my age, the security guard let me in and I got everything done in an hour,” he said.
Bechan said people from townships had made tremendous sacrifices to get to the offices only to be turned away because the computers were not working.
“At the time, staff told me there was a problem with the server in Pietermaritzburg,” he said.