Most South Africans have all heard at least once in their lives, “the system is offline”. Well, according to Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi we might be hearing less of that over the coming months. A huge revamp is coming, which will see new branches being built in a select few shopping malls.
The shopping centre branches aren’t the only way Home Affairs is planning to reduce their queues. More regular branches will be on their way this year, though there is going to be a slight waiting time. The shopping centre branches are more for an “immediate relief” option for areas with lots of traffic.
“Operating Home Affairs offices at malls will obviate the problem of queuing in the sun or rain. Malls will also provide convenient and safe parking for clients,” said Aaron Motsoaledi during his departmental budget speech on Tuesday.
Passports and Smart ID’s
For the time being, only 5 shopping centres will get this treatment;
- Cresta Mall – Johannesburg
- Southgate Mall – Johannesburg
- The Pavillion – eThekwini
- Tygervalley Mall – Cape Town
- Menlyn Mall – Tshwane
The first mall to be getting the upgrade will be Menlyn Mall – which should be happening sometime in September. The rest of the malls will follow suit when the time comes.
If this system works out for Home Affairs, there’s no doubt that more will be on the way. Eventually, we could be seeing more branches popping up in areas with less foot traffic.
Not the centre of attention
Not only are we getting more branches, but Home Affairs also claim it will be upgrading its new online booking system known as BABS (Branch Appointment Booking System)
For now, the 24 busiest branches are test driving the system, but an expansion will be taking place over the next couple of months. It would make sense to have the expansion roll out at the same time as the new branches, making September the most likely month.
“Apart from making sure that there are no queues in the Home Affairs offices where it is implemented, the BABS system will help eradicate corruption by making sure that those who practice the obnoxious behaviour of selling queue spaces have no clients because clients book straight online and come at the appropriate time, and hence they have no need to buy space from anybody in the queue.”
It’s great to see Home Affairs putting in slightly more effort. These expansions could help a lot of people, especially in poor communities where transport is expensive or harder to come by. We’ll see over the next few months whether Home Affairs feel the need to keep expanding or not. We sure hope they do.