PORT ELIZABETH - Close to 300 000 ID books have not been collected from various Home Affairs offices throughout the country and at least 40 000 of those are in the Eastern Cape, Minister Home Affairs Siyabonga Cwele said on Wednesday.
Cwele was visiting King Williamstown to address stakeholders on the non-collection of IDs and to urge the regional municipalities and the two metros to find ways of dealing speedily with the backlog before the final voter registration at the weekend.
The minister has urged South Africans to get their IDs, saying that most applicants in the Eastern Cape who have yet to collect them are from the two metros and the OR Tambo region.
About 13 000 of these ID books are in Nelson Mandela Bay centres in Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Motherwell, 11 000 ID books are in OR Tambo regional centres in Mthatha, Lusikisiki and Libode, he said, and 6 000 ID books are in Buffalo City Metro at East London and King Williams Town.
"People are working and can't get time off to join our long queues. Some are unemployed and don't have means to go to cities and collect their documents," said Cwele.
He said some people apply for ID books and migrate to other parts of the country before they could collect them.
"Some of these applications are dated back to 2014 but are still not yet collected," Cwele said.
Cwele said ward councillors are in a better position to hand out ID books to the people and that officials should share strategies that had worked in other parts of the country.
Matatiele Municipality Speaker Nomasom Mshuqwana said that in Alfred Nzo region, for example, they used tribal courts to distribute ID books.
"After noticing the slow pace of collecting smart ID cards we brought together stakeholders such as the traditional leaders, Home Affairs and SAPS (South African Police Services).
"We sent out notices to schools for the learners to inform parents about dates where ID books will be delivered at a particular tribal court," Mshuqwana said.
She said some people died before they could collect their Identity Documents while those with green barcoded ID books didn't see the urgency to collect smart cards.
Cwele said two mobile offices would be rolled out to cover the entire province.
However, Chauke Ngoma from the office of the speaker in Joe Gqabi said the people of that region opposed mobile offices because they did not offer all Home Affairs-related services.
Ngoma said Joe Gqabi residents have threatened not to vote but are open to engagements with councillors.
African News Agency (ANA)