Thousands of people across the country unable to access government services
- The Department of Home Affairs has been offline since Tuesday due to a “technical problem” at the State Information Technology Agency.
- As a result, thousands of people across the country have been unable to apply for necessary documentation at the start of the new year.
- In Kariega, about 100 people who had spent time and money to get to the Home Affairs office, were left frustrated.
A nationwide failure of the Department of Home Affairs’ online system left thousands of people unable to apply for or receive necessary documents on the first two working days of 2024.
While more than 100 people waited vainly for assistance at the Home Affairs office in Kariega (formerly Uitenhage) on Wednesday, two officials, who cannot be named as they did not have authorisation to speak to the press, said messages on the work WhatsApp group showed the system had been down in the other provinces as well.
They said there was a “technical glitch” in the system, resulting in thousands of applications being unprocessed.
This was confirmed by Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza on Thursday.
In a general press release, Qoza stated the department’s services were not available due to a “technical problem on the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) mainframe which affects access to the National Population Register”.
He stated SITA had assured its technicians were attending to the matter.
In response to queries from GroundUp on Thursday, he said at midday that Home Affairs offices had started getting back online.
In the meantime, people seeking necessary documents wasted time and money travelling to Home Affairs offices. In Kariega, scores of people from surrounding townships and nearby towns had paid taxi fare to get to the Home Affairs office in the Kariega city centre, only to find they could not be assisted as the system was offline. An official told GroundUp the system at the Kariega branch had been “on and off” since 18 December last year.
“Yesterday we did not work and today still, applications cannot be processed because the system is blocked and is offline. This needs IT specialists to look at it and that’s only when we will know what the problem is,” he said.
Shortly before midday on Wednesday, pensioner Blom Mtsitsi gave up on watching the queuing screen and went to sit outside. Mtsitsi said he had spent money to make the hour-long journey from Despatch with his son Silulami, and had been waiting at the Kariega Home Affairs office since 7am.
He said he had come to apply for a new ID as he had lost his in July last year. “I can’t do anything without an ID, it’s a must-have.”
He said he had left home at 6am to be there early and one of the first in the queue.
“I only drank coffee in the morning and I am hungry now,” he said.
When GroundUp went to the Kariega Home Affairs office on Thursday morning, there were again people trying to get assistance, but the system was still offline.