The Department of Home Affairs is piloting a new e-booking system which it says will drastically reduce long queues and wait times at its offices.
The new system forms part of a wider push to improve service delivery at Home Affairs offices, including a plan to address ageing equipment and an unstable network which has led to infrastructure issues. The department also plans to improve internet speeds and system downtime through new technologies, it said.
The system, which is current being trialled in select high-volume offices, has been integrated with the national population register to allow clients to use their ID numbers to book a slot. This will prevent agents illegally operating in home affairs offices from blocking slots to sell them on.
This includes options to book an appointment at a specific home affairs office in each province, as well as an expected start and end time.
How it works
While the department has previously said that the new system will use a mobile app that will allow South Africans to enter their user details and schedule appointments, a version of the system is currently available through its website.
The system first requires users to fill in their personal details, including:
- ID number;
- Full name and surname;
- Cellphone number;
Once the details have been confirmed and checked against the internal population register, users are given the option to select the branch they visit.
A total of eight Home Affairs branches are currently available during the pilot phase including:
- Pretoria (Gauteng)
- Akasia (Gauteng)
- Tongaat (KwaZulu-Natal)
- Ndwedwe (KwaZulu-Natal)
- Cape Town (Western Cape)
- Paarl (Western Cape)
- Wynberg (Western Cape)
- Belville (Western Cape)
Users are then given the option to select which service they wish to use. This appears to be currently be limited to ID and Passport applications and renewals.
They can also book to collect documents that are outstanding,
Once this data has been inputted, users can select a date range that they were would like to make a booking. They are then presented with a calendar and a list of available slots.
BusinessTech was unable to book a slot in the Gauteng province – indicating that there are still some teething problems with the pilot system.
In November, Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi confirmed that the department will also expand its partnership with banks to offer additional services at branches across the country in 2022.
Motsoaledi said the department’s partnership with banks is being piloted and operated at 25 bank branches. “The intention is to increase the number of the sites to 70 once the Public-Private-Partnership Agreements are signed with the banks,” he said.
Home Affairs initially introduced its banking pilot to assist with the reduction of long queues at DHA offices, to expand the service platforms, and to allow citizens to apply for Smart ID cards and passports online.
Applicants are only required to visit the bank branch to complete biometric requirements, thereby reducing the time spent in the bank or Home Affairs office.