A reader complains of his long wait at Home Affairs in Pinetown to apply for, and collect, his passport.
OPEN letter to the Home Affairs Minister:

Dear Minister Siyabonga Cwele, I want to make an official complaint to you about the unhappy experience I had, and the disgusting state of affairs, at your Pinetown offices.

On Thursday, May 2, I went to collect my new passport, which was issued within two weeks of my application (the application process had taken three hours).

However, I feel that you should know about the wasted time I had to spend in queues to just collect the passport.

I arrived at your offices at 7.30am. At 8.30am, because I am a pensioner, I was positioned in a special queue of about 35 people outside the entrance.

For the next five-and-a-half hours, we had to stand in the hot sun until 1.30pm, when I was finally invited in by your roving staff member/ manager.

This “manager” had been moving between our growing queue and the two others of at least 120 people each, selecting 15 or so people from each and selecting about five from our pensioners’ queue and leading them into the office, as people finished their business inside the offices.

This meant all three queues became mere “general” queues.

At 11am, our pensioners’ queue was still filling up.

Only at 1.30pm did the manager allow three of us to go inside - yes, that’s right, Sir, we had been made to stand for five-and-a-half hours in the sun.

Once we got inside and told your admin staff that we had come to collect a passport, we were indicated to a queue before the “collections” counter.

After a further wait until 3pm, we were handed the passport. It had taken seven hours of my time to collect a passport.

There are no toilet facilities outside and I witnessed people relieving themselves behind the cars parked on the roof floor of your building - three single toilets only are inside the building and you need to know that the female toilet was not flushing, and not one of your staff members seemed to care about this.

I have photographs to illustrate the predicament of citizens at Pinetown.

I suggest that you make a personal surprise/unannounced visit to Pinetown soon and see for yourself the actual state of service.

It is obvious to me that your predecessor, Malusi Gigaba, did not have the skills or the ability to establish a more efficient method of dealing with this huge flow of citizens requiring service from your department, and I trust that my suggestions hereunder will be of assistance to you to remedy this situation.

1. Arrange more/larger offices, parking facilities and shaded queue areas if there is an overflow of people waiting to be served.

2. Arrange separate queues and counters, and label them for:

  • Marriage and birth registrations
  • Passport applications
  • Smart card applications
  • Passport and smart card collections

3. Provide toilet facilities.

4. Instruct your staff to be more “customer friendly” toward citizens (these citizens are your hoped-for supporting voters).

With the above in place, a person can go to the appropriate queue and have his/her business attended to directly instead of wasting time in a general queue.

I hope that you will be able to set up a more satisfactory service to citizens.

THE MERCURY