Long wait at Home Affairs

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QUALIFYING as a pensioner born in January I accepted the advertised invitation to apply for the new identity card and telephoned Home Affairs to confirm where I should go. I was given a street address behind Pier 14, the old address of Home Affairs.

I eventually established that the department is now in a smart-looking white building just past the magistrate’s court in Govan Mbeki Avenue. Doubtless many of your readers will be similarly misled.

But that was only the start of my problems.

At the entrance a uniformed guard took my ID book and guided me through crowds of queueing people to a seat. After 15 minutes another official found me among hundreds of people waiting for service, and gave me a photo copy of my ID book and a number – 161!

This had to be called for me to be photographed and have fingerprints taken. The last number up was 64!

A woman sat in the photo booth for more than 20 minutes while the operator – when she was there – fiddled with the equipment. Then a pensioner sat patiently facing the camera for more than 15 minutes while the routine continued.

He told me a friend had recently been there from 8am till 3pm to apply for his ID. Understandable, as in more than an hour only two people had gone through the booth.

After more than two hours in the building I left. I was not the only one.

It is clear the system cannot cope with the load. More competent staff are required and the procedure needs to be seriously streamlined.

As it is, apart from the irritation, endless man-hours will be lost if the whole population has to go through this and to think they will have to pay R140 for the pleasure.

They will lose more than that in lost wages. As it is, it is an utter disaster.

RC Knight, Walmer Heights, Port Elizabeth


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