Home Affairs staff excel
New manager hailed for improvement at local office
STAFF members at the city’s controversial Home Affairs office have received heaps of praise after going the extra mile to help customers this week.
The Church Street office, which normally shuts its doors at 3.30 pm every day, stayed open until 6 pm on Monday to accommodate people who had been queueing outside.
Pietermaritzburg resident Moonyean Smit praised the newlyappointed office manager, Xolani Maphumulo, and his staff for going beyond the call of duty.
Maphumulo spoke to people still in the queue at closing time and assured them that they would all be served.
“I was one of the 40 people outside. I left at 5.40 pm and they were still serving people,” said Smit.
“He [the manager] was the one issuing the numbers and helping to print photographs. It was very admirable that they kept their word and served everyone.”
She added: “I cannot believe that he actually managed to convince his staff, and they stayed and finished.
“Every single person was helped and we were all very impressed. He deserves a medal in my opinion.”
She said the staff attended to all the patrons without any complaints.
The office has frequently featured in the pages of The Witness before, but almost always because of people’s unhappiness with the service there. The main complaints have centred on the length of the queues and the apathetic staff.
Maphumulo is determined to change all that. Speaking yesterday, he committed to make every effort to turning the office into a welloiled machine.
“The service will improve enormously. We are currently dealing with the bottlenecks downstairs and trying to establish what is causing the long queues,” he said. “We want to ensure that the queues move faster so we can help more people.”
Maphumulo was seconded by the Department of Home Affairs’ provincial management from its Ixopo office.
He took over the reins last Monday and said the office was making small strides towards improving service delivery.
Initially, the Church Street office only had one information counter and yesterday a second was in operation. A third is in the pipeline.
“We identified that the holdup was at the information counter. It is the first point where people check if they are illegible to apply and if their documents are in order,” said Maphumulo.
He acknowledged that a significant challenge was in dealing with firsttime ID smart card and passport application queues.
To ensure that operations run efficiently, he checks the queues every hour.
“What we want to encourage is that we assist people until the last person has left. We will deal with how we compensate for extra hours after the people have been served.”
In future, the office will operate strictly on a number system.
“We know our capacity a day is 250,” he said.
If more people turn up “we will be transparent and ask people to visit other Home Affairs offices nearby instead of sitting in the queue and not get helped”.
Home Affairs staff who went beyond the call of duty on Monday to assist patrons who were queueing outside their office. New manager Xolani Maphumulo is on the right.