Johannesburg - Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has blamed the delays in collection of identity documents at the department’s offices to members of the public who fail to collect them immediately after receiving text notification.
Motsoaledi said the department was now sitting with nearly 400 000 uncollected identity documents at its country-wide offices despite 15 000 distributed on a daily basis.
"Currently there are 389 574 uncollected ID documents," Motsoaledi said in a written response to a parliamentary question from DA MP Joe McGluwa.
He also said the identity documents were being destroyed by the Department if the client was issued with a new document or the client was deceased.
"The department has dedicated counters for collection, however, clients delay to collect their ID documents after receiving the SMS notification," he said.
"Clients are not collecting their ID documents immediately after they receive the SMS notification that the ID document is ready for collection," he said.
Motsoaledi said the Department was addressing the issuing of identity documents on weekends through its various heads of offices that on a voluntary basis, arrange with communities to open offices on weekends as well as during holidays.
He said the arrangement was not sustainable because it depended on volunteerism.
"The Department engaged organised labour on working hours at the Departmental Bargaining Chamber with a view to ensure service delivery is not affected and that our offices open on weekends.
"Work performance over weekends however requires payment of overtime as the staff is not prepared to work ‘voluntarily’ after completing their 40-hour work week," Motsoaledi said.
He also said his department has re-opened negotiations with trade unions over the departmental employees working on weekends.
"In order to normalise the environment and to ensure our offices open on Saturdays or weekends, the department is to re-open negotiations with organised labour as well as the Department of Public Service Administration to allow work on weekends through the introduction of a shift system or alternatively performance of remunerated overtime," Motsoaledi said.
He believed that the move would assist clients who could not visit department offices during the week to access services on weekends.
"However due to the current financial constraints in the Department, it is currently not feasible to pay for the performance of remunerated overtime over weekends.
"The Department will however explore possibilities of using alternative channels for collection of enabling documents over weekends."
Asked about the halting of mobile units to provide services in the rural areas in the Eastern Cape, Motsoaledi also said his department has adopted a multi-channel strategy in order to meet the service delivery needs of the citizens.
"This includes physical offices, mobile units and online services. The Department also has partnerships with the Department of Health for registration of birth in the hospitals."
Motsoaledi said the mobile units were not operating nationwide, not just in the Eastern Cape rural areas.
"The reason for halting of the mobile units programmes is that, with the old mobile fleet being over seven years on the roads, and about 54 of the units being economically irreparable."
He said the department was in the process of refurbishing the existing 61 trucks, and has procured additional 38 trucks to add to the total fleet.
"The mobile units will be deployed in the hard to reach areas across the country, including the Eastern Cape once the modernisation process is concluded," Motsoaledi said.