The Department of Home Affairs has announced that this weekend their operating hours across the country will be extended ahead of the local government elections. The local government elections are set to take place on Monday, 1 November. The aim of the extension is to accommodate those people who would like to collect or apply for identity documents (IDs) to enable them to vote on Monday.
According to the department, this is also to deal with the high demand for services at Home Affairs offices. 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. Last month, the department urged people to collect their IDs from Home Affairs offices so they can vote in the November Local Government Elections.
According to the department, about 370,000 IDs had not been collected by the end of last week. The department urged citizens to take advantage of the department’s new operating hours. Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, said they 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.
“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,” Motsoaledi said last week.
Minister 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 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.
“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, Motsoaledi said they 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,” Motsoaledi said.
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