No end to long Home Affairs' queues
Durban - After an interview with the national Department of Home Affairs about the lengthy queues at the various offices in Durban and people being turned away, the Daily News visited these offices to note any improvements.
However, there was no end to people’s woes as the long queues and systems being off-line continued. Also causing further frustration was a ticket system that allowed only a certain number of applicants daily.
About 80 to 100 people are turned away daily at the Pinetown Home Affairs offices, because it attends to only 85 people a day. The ticket system has been introduced at almost all the Home Affairs offices in Durban. It is causing frustration because people are being turned away before 8am.
At Pinetown, 85 tickets were issued, but people who queued from as early as 5.30am were not among the 85 who received tickets. They were told to return early the next day.
The Daily News also learnt that not all those in the queue were genuine applicants. Some were queuing to get a ticket with the aim of selling it to people at the end of the queue.
Tickets were openly being sold for R300 and, after some negotiation, some said they were sold a ticket for R150.
“It is a lot of money to pay so that I could jump the queue. It is illegal, I know, but I have been to this office three times trying to apply for a passport. I was here at 6am and thought I would get a ticket, but I was number 120 in the queue. There was no way I was going to get a ticket, so when I was offered one for a price, I had no choice, but to buy it,” one woman said.
“I need my passport to travel to America to see my daughter, who just gave birth, but it looks like getting my passport will take longer than I thought.”
By 10am, only 29 people out of the 85 distributed tickets had been attended to.
Another frustrated person said selling tickets was corrupt and unfair to those who could ill afford the money to get to Home Affairs, let alone buy something to eat and drink while in the queue the whole day.
At the offices in uMgeni Road, the frustrations were the same. The office only takes 300 ID and passport applicants a day. The rest were turned away, including Grade 12 pupils who were there as early as 6am.
“I urgently need my ID to register for the matric exams. I applied through my school last year, but mine was never sent to my school. I have missed a day of school and I still do not have a ticket, which means I will not be attended to today,” she said.
An ill woman said she had been in the queue since 5am and felt the government should provide visitors with a proper waiting area with chairs.
At the Dr AB Xuma Street (Commerical Road) offices, scores of people who queued outside said they had lost hope that Home Affairs would ever find a solution to the problem.
Mava Scott, spokesperson for Minister of Home Affairs Ayanda Dlodlo, was shocked to hear about the ticket sellers. “Those tickets are not for sale. We condemn this in the strongest terms. We are going to investigate these allegations. If there are people making money out of this ticket system, we will deal with them,” he said.
About complaints of the system being off-line, Scott said the only reports of the systems being slow was three weeks ago.