People struggle to get IDs at Khayelitsha Home Affairs as elections loom

One person said they slept outside the Khayelitsha office on Monday night. Despite being among the first in line, they were only helped at 3pm on Tuesday.

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People wait outside the Department of Home Affairs office in Khayelitsha on Tuesday to collect their IDs. Many said they’ve had to return a few times before getting help. Photos: Sandiso Phaliso

  • With elections just weeks away, hundreds of people are struggling to collect or apply for IDs at the Home Affairs office in Khayelitsha.
  • GroundUp visited the office last Thursday and again on Tuesday. On both days there were scores of people waiting in line outside.
  • Most people we spoke to said they had to return to the Khayelitsha office three or four times before they were assisted.

Hundreds of people applying for, or collecting identity documents (IDs) at the Home Affairs office in Khayelitsha are being turned away empty-handed. With the 29 May elections looming, many of the people in the queue were concerned they might not receive their IDs on time, and would thus be unable to vote.

On Thursday last week there were about 50 people still queuing outside at lunchtime. When GroundUp returned on Tuesday morning, there were hundreds of people queuing outside the door.

In a statement before Parliament in November 2023, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi blamed the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) system failures for the long queues at Home Affairs. He said measures were being implemented to improve efficiency at Home Affairs. These measures included the online appointment booking system and new “virtual interactive self-service machines” that would be introduced in all nine provinces, but these can only re-issue IDs.

At about lunchtime on Thursday, there were still more than 50, mostly young, people still waiting to be assisted. Some said they were there simply to collect an ID, while others were desperately trying to apply for one.

A female staff member came out to tell those in the queue that the system was offline and they could not assist anyone else that day.

Andiswa Mtatsi told GroundUp she had been queuing since the office opened at 8am - six hours before we arrived on Thursday. By lunchtime she was at the front of the line, which was snaking around the block.

It was the third day she had travelled to the office, hoping to collect her ID. At R17 for a single trip by taxi, she said she was irritated that she would have to return yet again.

One person said they slept outside the office on Monday night. They were only helped at 3pm on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, we found more people waiting in line. Most people we spoke to said they had to return to the Khayelitsha office three or four times before they were assisted.

Inside the office, we saw less than 50 people on the ground floor, and empty chairs in the waiting area. It was unclear why staff would not allow more people to be seated inside.

Thimna Bangiso told GroundUp she slept outside Home Affairs in the hope of getting help as soon as the office opened. She was only helped several hours later, at 3pm. This was her third visit to the office.

“We are told to make appointments to get help faster. But to make an appointment we must have access to the internet and for that we need money which we don’t have,” said Bangiso.

“It is very chaotic around here and people have to stand in the rain or in the scorching sun when it is hot,” she said.

A security guard confirmed there are long queues at the Khayelitsha office almost daily.

A manager at the office refused to speak to GroundUp, referring questions to national spokesperson Thabo Mokgola. Mokgola told us to revert to another spokesperson, Siya Qoza, but Qoza did not respond.

TOPICS:  Home Affairs

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