Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, has announced that Home Affairs has suspended services for smart IDs, passports and marriage registrations under the amended Level 3 lockdown regulations announced by President Ramaphosa last night.
Motsoaledi painted a grim picture of the situation at Home Affairs, saying that:
“Huge crowds gather at our offices while not observing protocols, regardless of markings, people don’t observe rules. The situation of not observing protocol has gotten worse.”
Motsoaledi says out of 412 offices, 266 had to close at some point since lockdown began in March 2020. Some offices were closed more than once because employees had tested positive.
Between March and December, he says 532 staff members in the Civic branch tested positive for Covid-19. The affected employees are mostly from Gauteng, KZN and Eastern Cape. Seven front office employees have already died in 2021, also putting a strain on service delivery.
The Minister says the issuing of death certificates has also increased exponentially. All indications are that at the end of January, we would have had even more death registrations than in 2020.
Death registration in December 55 676 more than what was registered in the previous two years.
“On 4 and 5 January, Home Affairs registered 10 582 deaths. If this trends are going upwards…it will get worse.”
Taking all these factors into consideration, Home Affairs has decided to suspended certain services temporarily:
- Application for smart IDs is suspended, except for matriculants
- Applications for passports, except for people who fall in categories that are permitted to travel
- Marriage services, solemnisation and registration of marriages
- Collection of IDs will only be for people who have received SMS notifications
Motsoaledi said that Home Affairs will continue to operate from Monday to Friday, and will extend operating hours to 19:00 until 15 February to accommodate people to register births and deaths.
“In order to defeat the pandemic, we appeal to everyone to observe Covid-19 protocols. No one will be allowed to enter Home Affairs offices without masks. Our biggest enemy is not complying with social distancing.”