Chaotic queues and bribery at Home Affairs in South Africa

Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Mostoaledi must urgently resolve the long and chaotic queues appearing outside Home Affairs offices around South Africa.

This is according to Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Adrian Roos, who said these queues were a sign of the government’s failed initiative to crack down on long queues at Home Affairs premises.

“Despite scenes of citizens huddled in long queues outside of Home Affairs offices across South Africa, with no social distancing measures in place, no apparent action has been taken,” Roos said.

“Instead, the ANC government sends battalions to the beaches to arrest surfers.”

“Although Home Affairs have slashed available services, queue marshalls stationed at Home Affairs offices throughout South Africa as part of the failed ‘war on queues’ initiative seem incapable of carrying out their role effectively,” he added.

Last week, Motsoaledi announced that the applications for ID cards, passports, and marriage services had been suspended to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The minister appealed to people not to visit Home Affairs to collect new ID cards unless they have been invited via SMS to do so.

These efforts to reduce the number of people queuing outside Home Affairs offices have failed, however, with queues appearing at many offices around the country.

Staff sitting at home

Roos said that South Africans are visiting Home Affairs to facilitate birth registrations, among other applications, but the staff usually within the offices are now sitting at home.

“Citizens are driven to Home Affairs offices due to a lack of birth registration facilities at hospitals and a lack of effective mobile units to take basic Home Affairs services to the people.”

“The staff usually positioned in the Home Affairs offices that are now sitting at home while these people queue outside for hours could be allocated to assist with queue management outside of the offices,” he said.

“Queue marshalls could be monitored to ensure effective queue management. The SAPS could be called on to provide monitoring services. But doing nothing is not an option.”

Roos referred to scenes of long queues outside of Home Affairs offices across South Africa, noting with concern the lack of social distancing and the potential for spreading COVID-19 in these areas.

“The DA will write to the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs to demand a plan be tabled by the Minister as he appears unmoved by scenes outside of Home Affairs offices,” he said.

Bribery and hundreds of people queuing

A recent report by the Daily Maverick details the dire situation at one of the country’s busiest Home Affairs offices in Orlando, Soweto.

According to the report, Home Affairs officials said birth certificates were being prioritised. However, of the hundreds of people queuing at this office, only around ten were reportedly let in during the course of a single day.

Bribery was rampant, with many in the queue stating that there were “creative means” to skip the queue if you had at least R100 to spend.

Crowds queuing outside the Home Affairs office in Orlando grew increasingly frustrated with the establishment, and at one point a Home Affairs official announced that their computers had been damaged by a visitor.

“We have a problem. A mentally unstable visitor has damaged three of our computers,” the official said.

“Please be patient with us when things get slower,” added the official.

The Daily Maverick noted that observing social distancing, the wearing of masks, and other COVID-19 protocols was not a priority for visitors to the Home Affairs office.

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Chaotic queues and bribery at Home Affairs in South Africa