‘Irate citizen complaints’ lead to longer hours at some home affairs offices

Temporary extension to cope with surge in demand for services

19 October 2021 - 10:33
Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has temporarily extended operating hours at some home affairs offices to meet growing demand for services. File photo.
Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has temporarily extended operating hours at some home affairs offices to meet growing demand for services. File photo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

Home affairs minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has approved the temporary extension of operating times at some of the department’s offices by two-and-a-half hours, to keep them open from 8am to 5.30pm.

The department said the temporary extension, effective from Monday, was designed to meet a surge in demand for its services.

Out of the 412 home affairs offices, 197 were modernised live capture offices that could process smart ID cards and passports.

These are the offices that will operate for extended hours due to increased demand for services.

“The deputy minister [Njabulo Nzuza] and I have been receiving a lot of complaints from irate citizens across the country.

“Most of these people have complained about a bad practice by some home affairs offices where queues are cut and people sent home, presumably because there are already more than enough people to serve for the day,” said Motsoaledi.

The minister said he learnt this incorrect practice of sending people home happened as early as 7am.

“We want to emphasise there is no government policy that provides for that and members of the public should not be treated in this way,” Motsoaledi said.

“Where it happens, members of the public must challenge it, take down the name of the official who wants to send them home and raise it with the office manager.”

He said the temporary extension was meant to resolve congestion which had increased over the past two weeks at identified offices. The intervention includes the full return of staff to those offices.

He said the only people who would be sent home were those who arrived after 5.30pm. Motsoaledi said everybody who arrived before 5.30pm should be served and not turned away.

The department said in the event of the system being offline, it would intervene quickly.

Everyone visiting home affairs offices was urged to observe social distancing rules, sanitise their hands and wear face masks properly, covering both nose and mouth. Anyone who is not wearing a mask properly will not be assisted.

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