I’VE HEARD OF frus­trat­ing Gov­ern­ment bu­reau­cracy but noth­ing com­pares to what I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced with the East­ern Cape Depart­ment of Labour, specif­i­cally its UIF unit in Bisho. For starters, you have to try sev­eral times be­fore you reach a per­son at the end of the phone. Even then, you’ll feel as if you’re lost or talk­ing to the wrong per­son. Peo­ple an­swer as if you’d caught them tak­ing a nap or they’re do­ing you a favour by an­swer­ing your call.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve called the depart­ment. The query has been the same: a re­quest for an up­date on a UIF claim my mother made in late 2009 for my late fa­ther. We were rushed to make the claim be­cause it would ex­pire af­ter six months from the date of death. Lit­tle did we know a year would lapse and the cheque is yet to be de­posited, if it will ever be... What’s hold­ing it up is any­one’s guess. All sup­port­ing doc­u­ments were sub­mit­ted and we’re for­ever told the claim has been pre-ap­proved.

On one oc­ca­sion, af­ter sev­eral at­tempts, the per­son on the other end just picked up the phone and placed it on the desk and con­tin­ued her con­ver­sa­tion with the peo­ple she was talk­ing to. Imag­ine my frus­tra­tion. I held on for more than five min­utes un­til I re­alised it wasn’t worth it. I’ve now run out of ideas.

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