Protesters slam poor service at Home Affairs

Protesters braved the rain and cold to complain about poor service at the Home Affairs office in Khayelitsha.

In the rain and cold, scores of protesters marched to the Department of Home Affairs office in Khayelitsha on Tuesday, accusing it of poor service.

The march was spearheaded by UniteBehind, a civil society organisation, and the protesters called for the manager of the office to be removed.

One of the marchers, Helen Pelesane, 58, said she had battled for three months to get an ID for her grandson of whom she has guardianship.

Officials at the office had not been prepared to listen to her and had told her to apply for the ID in Gqeberha, in the Eastern Cape, where she is from originally.

“My grandson is doing matric but he does not have an ID, and I’m worried about how he is going to write his matric,” she said. “As I’m standing here I have a headache every time I think about this matter.

“I don’t know what one must do in order to get an ID. When I heard about this march I knew that I needed to be here so that I can raise my difficulties with this office in getting help whether it is raining or not.”

UniteBehind youth organiser Sinethemba Mtheza said they had decided to take action after getting dozens of complaints about the office from residents.

They had tried many times to have a meeting with the facility manager but to no avail.

People could lose out on life-changing opportunities without an ID, she said.

“When you do not have an ID, you are nobody, and your life is at standstill. Grandmothers cannot apply for the old-age social security grant, and yet when people come here, they are not getting any satisfactory services from this place where they needed it the most.“

Some pupils are unable to write their matric final exams because they do not have an ID.

“I hope that by the fact that there are grannies who have braved this cold weather they can at least understand their plight.”

Another protester, Nokuphiwa Booi, said she had applied for an ID for herself in 2013, but when she had recently gone to the office to apply for one for her child, who is doing matric, she had been unable to do so as she had been told she had a duplicate ID.

The officials had failed to advise her how she might solve the problem, she said.

Department of Home Affairs district manager Bongiwe Sakawuli accepted the list of grievances and asked the protesters to organise a meeting so that they could iron out any misunderstanding and attend to the cases they had raised.

Home Affairs district manager Bongiwe Sakawuli accepted a list of grievances from the protesters.
Nokuphiwa Booi says she has battled to get an ID for her child, who is writing matric.