TONGAAT HOME AFFAIRS NEED TO APPOINT AN OFFICIAL TO GUIDE THE THRONGS OF PEOPLE IN A FRIENDLY MANNER
(PEOPLE WAITING TO BE ATTENDED TO INSIDE THE HOME AFFAIRS OFFICE IN TONGAAT)By Subry Govender
The Tongaat office of the Department of Home Affairs needs a staff official or a volunteer who will be able to make life easier for people who visit the centre.
This is what I found lacking when I visited the office on Monday, June 18 (2018) to renew my passport.
When I arrived at about 12:15pm I found that the centre was already filled with people who had thronged the office from the early hours of June 18. They were there to apply for new ID documents, to apply for new or to renew passports; or to collect their new ID documents and passports.
After waiting in the queue outside the office for about five minutes, I asked the young man in front of me what was the reason for his visit.
“O’h I am here to renew my passport and I have been told to wait in the queue outside here,” said the student who resides in Durban North.
We chatted for a while about the congestion inside the Home Affairs office and agreed that we have to wait for another three or four hours to finalise the renewal of our passport procedures.
After a few moments I went up to the security guard at the entrance and informed him that I had come to renew my passport and asked him what was the procedure.
He responded by saying that I have to join the queue outside the entrance and follow those in front of me.
After I re-joined the queue and waited for some time, a lady and her son came along and went straight to the entrance without joining the queue.
The lady’s son was also there to renew his passport. He was informed that they must go straight to the official who was issuing ticket numbers.
The young man from Durban North and I immediately went to the security official and informed him that we were also there to renew our passports.
The security guard’s colleague, a lady official, was taken aback and said:
“Who asked you to stand in the queue. You must go straight to the official who is issuing the tickets and join the queue there,” said the lady official.
Now imagine this. After wasting about 30 minutes outside the entrance we had to join another queue to obtain our tickets.
Nevertheless, after waiting for a few minutes I was issued my ticket and number to join another queue to get finger printed and to be photographed. This was about 12:50pm.
The official in this queue took her own time and it was after another about 45 minutes that I had my finger prints and photo processed.
“What is the next procedure?”, I asked the lady official.
“You must wait to be processed in the front,” she said. She appeared to be too tired and not interested in entering into any conversation with me. I wanted to make a few suggestions about how the service could be improved and how the people could feel welcomed at the centre. The officials should not feel that they are doing favours to the people visiting the centre.
After observing her lack of interest and her “don’t bother me” attitude, I joined the third queue to process the renewal of my passport. There were more than 100 people before me.
During this time, I noticed that a lot of other people were having similar problems after not being informed fully of the procedures.
I spoke to a young lady who had arrived at the centre at 11am and she appeared to be frustrated at the delay in her identity document being processed. This was around about 2pm.
“I wish there will be some official here who will interact with the people and make life easier,” she said.
She added: “If they have someone talking to the people and helping them to join the proper queues, then I think people will not be so angry. This is my second visit here because the first time they just didn’t care about helping me.
“I think they must also have an electronic system to keep the people informed as to the next number being served. If not the electronic system, then they must use a loud speaker to announce the next number.”
The lady who resides in an area nearby was served at about 30 minutes later.
When my turn came at about 3:25pm, I found the same official who took my finger prints and photo at the desk. She was as usual mechanical and was not keen on listening to any suggestions about improving the service.
When I insisted, she said: “You know we work very hard here and are also under-paid.”
After she completed my application, I had to go to the cashier to pay R400 for the renewal of my passport. Here too we had to wait for some time because the cashier was not at her post.
The young man from Durban North then asked another official: “Where is the cashier? We have been waiting for a while.”
The official sitting at a desk, outside the cashier’s cabin, shouted: “Cashier. You are wanted.”
After a few moments, the cashier lady returned to her post. The young man gave his money and slip number to her. But she told him: “Wait. I have to check something.”
She then proceeded to attend to the mother and her son and me. We paid our monies and wished the young man from Durban North well.
“Hope you will be finished soon,” I told him.
It seems that officials here are over-burdened and that’s the reason they find it difficult to interact in a friendly manner with the people who visit the centre.
But all is not gloom. About 30 minutes after I left the Tongaat office, I received an SMS from the Department of Home Affairs with this message:
“We acknowledge receipt of PASSPORT application for …(ID number) on 18 June 2018. More info: 0800601190 OR www.dha.gov.za”.
Ends – June 19 2018 (firstname.lastname@example.org)