Son’s application took 14 days, mom still waiting
A furious mother and son have had an agonising time trying to apply for Home Affairs’ new smart card identity document (ID).
What should have been a straightforward two-week process – from start to finish – has turned into a nearly three-month war of words and frustration for Walmer residents Kevin, 52, and Joyce Osborne, 82.
The application had never been submitted from Port Elizabeth and I would have to take my mother there again
Home Affairs district manager Sonto Lusu this week apologised to the pair for their ordeal and said the matter had been flagged with the department’s command centre for it to fast-track Joyce’s smart ID application.
Kevin, who lives with his mother and takes care of her affairs, says they went to the Port Elizabeth branch of Home Affairs on November 21 to apply for his mother’s smart card ID.
Since then, they have been trying to ascertain why Joyce’s application has dragged on. Kevin, by contrast, received his smart ID two weeks after submitting the necessary paper work.
This week, the Osbornes found out that Joyce’s fingerprints were at the heart of her woes – the ones taken in November were not clear, according to Home Affairs’ head office, said Kevin.
Then the Osbornes were informed they had to restart the application this week, which has led to more disappointment.
“My mother refuses to go to that office again this summer because there’s no air conditioner in there. She will only go back in winter, when it’s cooler.”
He has questioned what has happened to the documents containing Joyce’s fingerprints, which she submitted in 1995 when she applied for a passport.
He has made repeated calls to the department’s call centre, all of which have yet to yield any joy.
“Last month, I called the office and Marilyn Heneck asked me whether I was aware the application had never been submitted from Port Elizabeth to head office, and that I would have to take my mother down to the office again and inquire what the delay was.
“I took my mother to the office last month and demanded to see the branch manager. A security officer advised me to walk in to the inquiry counter, where I asked to speak to Mr [Sibongiseni] Biyase, the manager.
“Mr Biyase was working and told me I would be attended to. After some time I asked Mr Biyase whether he realised I was querying a matter that was overdue.
“During my wait, a gentleman arrived to collect his smart card. He asked whether I had been attended to and I explained my predicament.
“Mr Biyase asked the gentleman for his documents, and when this man queried why Mr Biyase was assisting him before me, Mr Biyase responded: ‘Just give me your documents, I’ll attend to him later . . .’
Eventually they were attended to. “Mr Biyase gave my mother his assurance the matter would be expedited to head office . . .”
Lusu confirmed Joyce’s application was made in November and captured electronically, after which it was dispatched automatically to head office.
Lusu said: “The client came to inquire when they realised the delay and follow-up was done with head office as [the] Port Elizabeth office could not remove the markers on the system that led to delay.
“After several interactions, [it was] indicated the reason for [the] delay was fingerprints that were rejected . . .”
This message was received last month. As of Wednesday the application was being processed because Joyce’s fingerprints matched those on the department’s system, Lusu said.
“[The] command centre has been contacted [for this] to be prioritised and the client will be updated.
“The manager apologised for serving other clients before serving the . . . [Osbornes].”
The client had been to the office and was being kept abreast of developments. The office would make daily checks on Joyce’s application progress and was in contact with the command centre to fast-track it.
-The Herald Reporter