The Department of Home Affairs has from Monday temporarily extended operating times by two and a half hours to meet the growing demands for services at offices.
“Home Affairs Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi has approved a temporary extension of operating times by two and a half hours at front offices from 08:00 to 17:30 from today, Monday, 18 October 2021, to deal with the high demand for services at Home Affairs offices,” the department said in a statement.
The department said out of the 412 Home Affairs offices, 197 are modernised Live Capture offices, which can process Smart ID Cards and passports.
“These are the offices that will operate for extended hours because that is where the high demand is being experienced,” said the statement.
“The deputy minister [Njabulo Nzuza] and I have been receiving a lot of complaints from irate citizens across the country,” said Minister Motsoaledi.
The minister said most of the complaints were about a bad practice by some home affairs offices, where queues “are cut” and people sent home. This was done presumably because there were already “more than enough people” to serve for the day.
“We learnt that this wrong practice of sending people home can happen as early as 07:00,” said Motsoaledi.
“We want to emphasise that there is no government policy that provides for that and members of the public should not be treated like that.
“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.”
Motsoaledi said the temporary extension was only meant to resolve congestion at the identified offices, which increased over the last two weeks and this intervention will be supported by the 100% return of staff in all offices.
“The only people who will be sent home are those who arrive after 17:30. Everybody who arrives before 17:30 should be served and not turned away,” said Motsoaledi.
“Home affairs exists to deliver enabling documents to people. We can’t turn away people who are looking for public services if they arrive within the stipulated hours of work.
“In the unfortunate event of the system being offline, we will ensure quick intervention and we appeal to members of the public to be patient.”
Motsoaledi said senior managers will visit offices unannounced to monitor operations on the ground.
“We urge everyone who comes to our offices to observe social distancing, sanitise their hands regularly and to wear their masks properly, covering their noses and mouths,” said Motsoaledi.
“Nobody will be assisted if they are not wearing their masks properly.”