A reader complains of his long wait at Home Affairs in Pinetown to apply for, and collect, his passport.
DURBAN  - The long queues at Home Affairs offices in Commercial Road (Dr AB Xuma) and Umgeni Road, where people have to wait several hours for assistance, may end soon.

Yesterday, provincial Home Affairs manager Cyril Mncwabe said there were “plans to ease the load” in the high-volume offices.

“There are plans in the works to deal with the high volume, particularly in Commercial and Umgeni roads,” he said.

However, he did not elaborate.

Mncwabe said the demand for services at Home Affairs had increased.

“The facilities are not actually at the level of being able to accommodate that increase in demand, and that’s why we make do with what we have,” he said.

Mncwabe was responding to concerns raised by Durban ward councillor Sharmaine Shewshunker.

She said she received several complaints from the public regarding the conditions at the Home Affairs in Commercial Road.

Shewshunker said people living in the CBD found it easier to go to that branch rather than the Umgeni Road office, which had long queues.

“Look at this queue, it’s going into the parking lot.

“Vehicles come in and out and these people have to move, and they end up on the road.

“Earlier this week the queue was on the road because there was a problem with them waiting in the driveway,” she said.

She said the road was very busy and people’s lives were endangered.

“People walking past have to walk around the queue and on the road.

“It’s an accident waiting to happen, and there will only be action when someone dies,” she said.

The councillor said there were no facilities for the elderly or disabled.

Shewshunker said she asked that the office be relocated to a better area.

“The facilities need to be better at Home Affairs because they perform a key service,” she said.

Nasreen Khan, the frustrated mother of 16-year-old Fuzail, said they had been trying to apply for her son’s ID since Tuesday.

Khan said Home Affairs officials kept sending them away, saying the system was offline.

Fuzail, who is fasting during the month of Ramadaan, said: “As a Muslim I am observing Ramadaan, and I am afraid I will faint standing in the queue in the hot sun.”

Dean Scheepers, 34, said he had been trying to apply for an ID card since last month.

Mncwabe said conditions at the Commercial Road office for people who had to queue outside were not good.

“We can’t completely block the roads, and we do admit that there are long lines.

“There are even shops complaining about our clientele who stand in front of their businesses,” he said.

Mncwabe said they experienced instances where the system, which is administered nationally, and not at a provincial level, went down, but he said that it usually came back on the next day.

THE MERCURY