The opposition Democratic Alliance has called on Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi to open online applications for IDs and passports with immediate effect.
This follows an announcement that his department has temporarily suspended certain critical services, including applications for smart identity documents (IDs), passports, marriage registration and the solemnization of marriages.
The opening of online services will ensure that services are not completely halted, and will also prevent the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) from having an influx of applications when these services are reopened for frontline processing, the DA said.
“Though we acknowledge that preventative measures have to be put in place to protect citizens and DHA staffers from contracting Covid-19, and that Home Affairs officials are currently buckling under pressure due to the high number of death certificates which it has had to issue – we strongly believe the suspension of critical Home Affairs services at this time will leave many South Africans in limbo,” it said.
The DA further warned that the move to suspend some services will result in unintended consequences.
“Particularly for those who need to apply for social grants who will not be able to do so without a valid IDs, in addition, people will be unable to access their Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) money, and many financial institutions do not assist those without a valid IDs to open an account or take out loans.”
It added that the suspension of critical Home Affairs services will cause a huge backlog that the department will find hard to recover from, especially in light of its ‘well-known”’ inability to render services at an optimum level even when it’s offices are fully open.
Due to the rapid rise of Covid-19 infections and a number of Home Affairs staff being affected, branches across the country are suspending certain services until further notice.
The services being suspended include:
- Smart ID applications and collections. Only matric learners will be able to apply for Smart IDs under the current lockdown level;
- Applications for passports, except for people who fall in the categories permitted to travel in the amended Disaster Management Act Regulations;
- Marriage services and solemnisation and registration of marriages;
- Issuing of birth certificates. Births should be registered at the healthcare facilities where they take place.
“We are aware this will be difficult on people. Please bear with us. We are trying to save lives while providing enabling documents,” minister Aaron Motsoaledi said.
For any other services, Home Affairs offices will still be open between 08h00 and 15h30.