Photo: intergate-immigration.comYet another problem in the government of our lovely South Africa, public service. Yay. Yet another negative. And this one I had the “pleasure” of experiencing myself at the Department of Home Affairs in Ekurhuleni or “Horror Affairs” as referred to by the Daily Sun.

I was absolutely speechless when entering the “Horror” Affairs in the East Rand region of Johannesburg in Gauteng. I accompanied my mother after her handbag was stolen and she now had to go through all the steps of acquiring new documents such as a passport, ID, drivers licence etc.

Upon entering the building, which was empty at the time because of our early arrival, we took the relevant forms and stood to one side to fill them in, when the security guard (who was unbelievably rude to my mother on a previous occasion as well) arrogantly came and told us to move to another place. I nearly lost it right there. We were standing at the allotted place where forms are to be filled in. I asked him what’s wrong with where we are standing now and if we are in anyone’s way. He said that we can’t stand there and that we have to move. So we just moved to avoid causing a scene.

When we came to the counter, the room was filling up considerably fast, but the official at the counter helping us, took his sweet time, moving at an agonisingly leisured pace, despite being one of three officials with a room full of people waiting to be helped. Now, everyone in South Africa knows, when dealing with government services, you have to have heaps of patience, because the system is just, unfortunately, that messed up. So after being helped, we were directed to the cashier. By now there was a line so we patiently waited our turn… and waited… and waited.

40 minutes passed and we still haven’t moved an inch. We were fifth in line. No one has been helped thus far. We see the woman (that’s supposed to be the cashier) moving behind the counter, coming and going. It was obvious to those who watched her that she had absolutely no idea what she was doing or how to do it. People started to get impatient and annoyed. All the documentation has been done and all that is left to do is just to pay the cashier and be on their merry way. So what on earth could be taking so long? It’s just a simple matter of taking the payment, entering whatever needs to be entered into the computer, printing a receipt, smile and say “Thank you, Goodbye.”

Long story short, after what felt like an eternity, we left. But why is it necessary for people to complain about public service? Home Affairs is notorious for its pitiful service, having been in newspapers quite a few times. I have been trying to get hold of the branch manager but was unsuccessful up until the time I published this post.

But it makes you think, even if you do get hold of someone, you tell them what you think, ranting about how despicable their service is… and then what? They tell you they’re sorry and whatnot. And that’s the end of that? It doesn’t improve. Nothing is being done to improve the condition of government services. And I know it’s not just my story, there are thousands of South Africans who feel exactly the way I do and who have had even worse experiences.

Something needs to be done here…