Monday, 18 October 2021

Pretoria: 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 starting from today.

This is to enable the department to deal with the high demand for services at Home Affairs offices.

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 due to the high demand.

“The Deputy Minister 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,” Motsoaledi said.

“We learnt that this wrong practice of sending people home can happen as early as 07:00. 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,” the Minister said.

Motsoaledi said the temporary extension is 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 the offices.

Motsoaledi explained that 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.

“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,” Motsoaledi said.

In the unfortunate event of the system being offline, the department said it will ensure quick intervention and appeal to members of the public to understand because this is something beyond their control.

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. Nobody will be assisted if they are not wearing their masks properly.” the Minister said.