Home South African Overhaul calls growing at Home Affairs after shutdown

Overhaul calls growing at Home Affairs after shutdown

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PSA National manager Claude Naiker says the entire system must be overhauled. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo

CALLS have reignited for an overhaul of the Department of Home Affairs after a cable breakage shutdown services across the country.

The breakage, which connects to the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), caused the department’s services to come to a standstill on Friday.

It managed to restore its online service only yesterday afternoon.

Home Affairs Ministry spokesperson Siya Qoza said the department will be extending operating hours today to compensate for the time lost.

Due to the network outage, Qoza said the department ran limited services which included passport collections, and handwritten death certificates for burial purposes.

Computerised certificates would be issued from today.

“The Department of Home Affairs and the State Information Technology Agency have been able to fix the cable breakage that impacted service delivery on Friday.

“Home Affairs services have been restored. Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has instructed the Department to extend operating hours to ensure that all clients that visited the offices on Friday are served,” said Qoza.

Motsoaledi apologised for the inconvenience and said the department owed it to the public to extend operating hours due to the “unfortunate network failure incident”.

Western Cape Standing Committee chairperson on Premier and Constitutional Affairs, Lorraine Botha, said the incident had a devastating effect on people’s lives.

“Our communities in rural areas especially, are paying such a lot for travelling fares to get to Home Affairs offices; money that they do not have in the first place.

“They then have to queue for long hours to get serviced. Even those just collecting their respective IDs have now to wait in a queue just to collect,” said Botha.

She said the department had to communicate clearly to communities on how they would be assisted when there was a system downtime.

The Public Servants Association (PSA) national manager Claude Naiker said the incident was nothing new to Home Affairs.

“The public has always blamed officials for the long queues and frustration at the delays in obtaining documentation.

“The IT system has always been problematic so an entire shutdown is surely a disaster to the already ailing system.

“The PSA has for years called for Home Affairs to completely overhaul the entire system,” said Naiker.

Action Society director Ian Cameron said it was a disgrace that the department which provides such a crucial service for people in the country has been allowed to deteriorate.

“It’s nothing new that the system goes offline. It happens quite regularly. And it just goes to show that tax money has been looted. And I think that we’re going to have extensive problems in the future with these types of services.”

The department will be open until 6:30pm today.

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