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.”
The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will roll out smart ID and passport facilities to several more bank branches in 2020.
Branches where the service will be rolled out are:
- Rosebank Mall
- Menlyn Maine
- Key West
- Waterfall Mall
- Fourways Mall, and
The names of the additional branches would be announced in due course.
Nedbank said it will extend e-Home Affairs services to another four branches in 2020.
Branches where the service will be rolled out are:
- St. George’s Mall
- Rustenburg Square
- Durban North, and
- Nedbank North Cape Mall
Standard Bank will open five more branches:
- Kingsmead in Durban
- Jubilee Mall in Hammanskraal
- Port Elizabeth
- Kathu, and
- Promenade Mall in Cape Town
The Department of Home Affairs website has been unavailable for nearly two weeks without any indication of when it will be back online.
The website initially displayed a message saying “The main website is currently offline. Emergency Maintenance as 10 April 2019”.
The website linked to a few Home Affairs services which were still online, including its online application process.
The holding page has since disappeared and the website is now completely offline, giving the error message “The requested URL could not be retrieved”.
The Department of Home Affairs continued to post pictures and videos of Minister Siyabonga Cwele on Twitter, but did not mention its website downtime.
The images below show what visitors to the Department of Home Affairs website were greeted with over the last two weeks.
The Parliamentary portfolio committee on home affairs on Tuesday welcomed the report that the usage of cellphones by front desk staff during working hours is banned after trade unions opposed this.
This follows the call made by the committee early this year calling for the complete banning of cellphones as it impacts on the quality of services rendered to clients.
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) had said that the use of cellphones by front desk staff had been the subject of discussions between labour and the employer in the bargaining chamber in order to ensure it is managed without infringing on the rights of workers.
“It is now clear that the usage of cellphones is banned and clients must not be faced with this challenge when they seek services at the department of home affairs,” said Hlomani Chauke, the chairperson of the committee.
The committee last month received numerous complaints from the public about delays at home affairs offices following a video that surfaced on social media showing two officials using cellphones while people waited in a queue at the home affairs offices in Tongaat, KwaZulu-Natal.
The department of home affairs has since issued written warnings to the officials involved even though they were not found guilty of any offence as they were using their cellphones during a power cut at the office.
The committee said it was satisfied by remedial action taken by the department. It also encouraged citizens to continue monitoring and reporting bad service by the department in a bid to identify employees who are undermining the delivery of the department’s mandate.
The department has assured the committee that it has undertaken a review of departmental policy on frontline employees’ cellphone use with relevant stakeholders to strengthen it.
“This is a constructive step aimed at reinforcing the endeavour to deliver quality services,” Chauke said.
By Tshidi Madia for News24
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba resigned from his post following mounting pressure for President Cyril Ramaphosa to give him the boot.
He decided to step down of his own accord, following a meeting with some of his comrades in the ANC on Tuesday morning, one of the provincial party leaders says.
The presidency confirmed Gigaba’s resignation via a statement in the afternoon, saying he decided to do so “for the sake of our country and the movement to which he belongs”.
“He resigned of his own accord, he showed some remorse and decided to step aside,” Ekurhuleni Mayor and ANC chairperson in the region Mzwandile Masina told News24.
“We met with him in the morning, discussed this issue and said the writing is on the wall and that it was best for him to resign.”
“To stay on and wait to be fired is arrogant,” added Masina.
He said the former minister’s friends and comrades advised him to step down and fight his battles outside of government.
“We said he must think of the ANC and his family, telling him it was best to step aside and fight the issues from outside,” said Masina.
Gigaba has been at the centre of numerous controversies, which led to growing calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to axe him.
In recent weeks Gigaba had: a leaked private video of him engaging in a sexual act; the Constitutional Court’s dismissal of his application for leave to appeal a finding that he lied under oath about approving the Oppenheimers’ private terminal at OR Tambo International Airport; and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane reaching similar conclusions to the court in her own investigation into the Fireblade scandal.
“He needs to apply for different court processes to clear his name. He cannot be a public representative, he cannot sit on boards… it’s about his integrity,” said Masina.
Masina also said Gigaba, out of his love for the ANC and his own contributions to the liberation movement where he once served as ANC Youth League president, agreed.
Internal battles in the ANC
Masina, who has been publicly defending Gigaba, refused to name others who took part in the Tuesday meeting. But said there appeared to be an understanding that the younger generation of leaders within the party, would not get a chance to lead it.
“There is a whole generation being wiped out of government, it has no prospects,” said Masina.
He told News24 this was linked to internal battles within the ANC.
Gigaba himself has previously said there was a campaign to destroy him, accusing Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises of joining in on the campaign after a report into his role at Eskom was leaked.
“We are blaming no one, he is taking responsibility and he will fight,” said Masina of his comrade and friend.