A trip to the Department of Home Affairs is no easy feat.
Most people line up as early as 4am to be among the first in line - and even that doesn't guarantee an early finish.
With long queues, applying for your passport and other essential documents at Home Affairs is a long-drawn process that takes hours.
People often take a day off to visit Home Affairs.
A viral tweet posted by Twitter user @ok_tshiamo this week sheds light on one issue at Home Affairs in a humorous way.
The tweet read: "Home Affairs should do Black Friday and the special is that the system is online the whole day." (sic).
Sharing his own experience, one commenter, @DocHassim, said that he visited the Home Affairs four times to get his passport renewed.
"Been to home affairs 4 times to renew a passport," he posted (sic) "Was Off line every single time. 4 days off work work for zilch" he added. (sic).
Home Affairs should do Black Friday and the special is that the system is online the whole day— young whippersnapper (@ok_tshiamo) November 17, 2021
A closer look at other tweets revealed that this isn't an isolated issue.
One person, @Wiseguy28680845, shared that he also experienced offline issues.
"Day No:6 now coming to Department of home affairs Prospecton but no help.wake up at 4am arriving at 6am standing whole day but no help. Last time system offline everyday excuse…." (sic)
Another user, @LeonSwart9, posted that he visited a branch on Paarl three times only to be alerted that the systems were down.
"Been to @GovernmentZA Department of Home Affairs in Paarl 3 times to apply for unabridged birth certificate, every time putting in a day's leave. On all these occasions they were "offline" with absolutely no sense of urgency. Please do better," he tweeted. (sic)
Closer to home, my colleague Lutho Pasiya recently applied for her passport.
Although she completed the application, her payment could not be processed because the system was offline. After a strenuous and lengthy process, she is now a passport holder.
A risk worth taking
Getting essential travel and other related documents from the Home Affairs comes with its own set of challenges.
For example, some applications or renewals of passports may be processed faster than usual or may require a second visit due to long waits or system issues.
When I needed to create a Smart ID card in 2019, I was turned away due to issues with the system.
The staff at the Durban branch were sympathetic and provided me with a ticket to return the following week.
When I returned on the date written on the ticket, I managed to get the application processed in under 10 minutes.
Sometimes a visit to the Home Affairs is a risk worth taking.