Home Affairs ramps up services

16 April 2010

Over 140 hospitals around South Africa have been linked to the Department of Home Affairs so that mothers can submit birth registration forms for their babies before they leave the hospital, Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said ahead of her budget vote in Cape Town this week.

“When the child needs an ID, it won’t be a hassle as they will have a birth certificate right away,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

A number of people over the age of 16 didn’t have IDs as they were never registered at birth, which meant they had to undergo a process of late registration of birth.

She said the department wants to do away with the late registration of birth process by making it easier for mothers to register children at birth. Where the system had been piloted in two district municipalities – OR Tambo and Sisonke – the department had been able to register 100 000 new people.

Increasing footprint, clearing backlogs

Dlamini-Zuma said Home Affairs would also be widening its footprint, as many of its centres were still located in the “old traditional white areas”, with very few located in townships.

The department aimed to open 10 new centres this year, following the 21 the department opened last year, and is partnering with the Department of Social Welfare in KwaZulu-Natal and Thusong Service Centres to open joint centres in rural areas.

Dlamini-Zuma said the track and trace system presently being used for IDs had now been extended to include the tracking of birth certificates and passports as well.

Commenting on the department’s success in clearing of the backlog in passport applications, Dlamini-Zuma said a new machine capable of printing 4 000 passports per hour had been introduced shortly before she took up her office as minister last year.

“I haven’t had SMSs or calls about passports for a long time, so I think that issue is behind us,” she said, adding that the waiting time from applying for and getting a passport had been reduced to “within 14 days”.

Asylum seekers’ permits

She said the processing of asylum seekers’ permits had been cut from one week to a single day, while a new refugee reception centre had also been set up in Musina.

Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba said while five decisions on applications for refugee status were recently made per refugee status determination officer per week, this had now been upped to seven applications being processed per official a day.

Gigaba said the department had increased the number of refugee determination officers and also intended to open a new refugee processing office in Bloemfontein.

He said departmental officials would also be conducting an international benchmarking study to improve on the present processing system for refugees, as the department believed that the present system was not efficient enough.

Source: BuaNews