Home Affairs must maintain fair queueing system

BASED on two recent visits to our Port Elizabeth Home Affairs office to register for the new smart card ID, it appears this office is still open to abuse. To minimise this risk, Home Affairs must introduce:

  • A system based on strictly controlled queue numbers (similar to SARS); and
  • Ensure employees are paid well enough so they do not have to be tempted by bribes to buck the system.

I base this on my experience:

I arrived at 6.20am and was No12 in the queue (there are two other queues – for people fetching their cards and for paying customers). People 60 years and older do not pay for their smart cards.

Doors were opened at 8.10am and we were taken by the floor walker (supervisor) to seats near the two photograph booths. Being 12th in the queue it should only have taken about 15 minutes to have my photograph taken.

I progressed to next in line when the floor walker brought two batches of young people in front of me (possibly about 40 people).

When I eventually got my queue number slip I was now No116. I also noticed what appeared to be a queueing company employee taking people ahead to various Home Affairs employees.

Those customers around me who had been in the outside queue were as astounded and confused as I and they started speculating that batches brought in ahead of us were possibly potential voters for the ruling party. The system should never be vulnerable to cause any wild speculation!

The only fair system would be when customers are processed strictly by queue number. These queue numbers should be in writing with a date.

What also confuses is the fact there is a notice inside that says “anybody who is 70 years or older (I am well into this category) or disabled should talk to the floor walker”. I tried talking to the floor walker, but was ignored.

While still in the queue I noticed an 82-year-old woman who looked very unsteady on her feet. I informed a security guard and he promised to correct the situation. He never did, this despite a sign saying “we care”.

The floor walker appeared to be stressed. He should rather be identified as “supervisor” and have power to delegate so that he could be involved in supervising and dealing with confused customers (in a notice the public are called “customers”).

I noticed that there was an office for an “office manager”. I could not help wondering how this senior person spent his time. Did he ever mingle and talk to his customers?

I found his cellphone number. After at least 20 attempts over two days I was still not able to talk to him.

Two ex-work colleagues were in the queue for collecting their new smart cards. They arrived at 8am and had still not received their cards by 11am.

My visit to Home Affairs took five hours and 10 minutes.

James Morey, Lorraine, Port Elizabeth

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