Home affairs offers limited service under level 2 of lockdown

Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

The department of home affairs will continue to offer only limited services under level 2 of the Covid-19 lockdown, restricting the number of people visiting its offices.

“During each lockdown level, we analyse the number of people who normally visit our offices and determine which services we can offer safely. At all times, we aim to protect the lives of our employees and citizens while ensuring access to essential services,” home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi said at a media conference on Friday.

He noted that from the start of the lockdown until August 21 more than 1.6 million people had visited home affairs offices.

The department will still not take applications at its offices from people who have lost their IDs and is not issuing passports except in exceptional circumstances, as required for essential services, business and emergencies. It is also not providing any services at refugee centres.

Motsoaledi announced that all temporary ID certificates issued during the national state of disaster, which had not expired by August 26, will be extended until October 31. There are 282,658 such certificates.

Between March 27 and August 21, the department issued 347,787 temporary ID certificates, of which 65,129 have expired. Holders of these expired certificates can go to the department’s offices to apply for smart IDs.

All forms of permits and visas have already been extended until October 31.

Those applying for an ID card or green bar-coded ID document for the first time will have to do so at the department’s offices, as well as those wanting to amend or rectify the personal particulars on their documents. On average, 4,000 people a month visit home affairs for amendments and rectification of personal particulars.

Motsoaledi said that, on average, the department processes a million first-time applications for ID documents a year, mostly from pupils. The department of basic education has reported that there are 637,767 pupils who do not have IDs.

South Africans who are abroad and need to return to SA can apply for one-way, temporary passports in cases where their passports have expired. Motsoaledi stressed that passports cannot be extended in terms of international rules of the International Civil Aviation Organisation intended to limit passport fraud.

A limited number of banks that accepted smart ID card and passport applications before the lockdown will open for collection on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the banks’ operating hours.

The eHomeAffairs portal for online applications remains deactivated as new applications are still not accepted under the current level of the lockdown. Also, the offices of the Visa Facilitation Services, which processes visas on behalf of the department, will only be open by appointment for collection of outcomes on applications that were made before the lockdown.

BY LINDA ENSOR

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