The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has announced a new appointment system to combat corruption and long queues at its offices.

The new appointment system will be linked to the national population register, allowing individuals to use their ID number to request a slot.

This, the DHA said, would prevent the illegal obstruction of slots by agents intent on selling them to those queueing.

In their presentation to Parliament, the DHA showcased the application that South Africans will use to request appointments at specific offices in each province.

The app requires users to provide a declaration of their health and Covid-19 status to complete the appointment request.

Angel Khanyile, the DA shadow minister of Home Affairs, said the new system would be accessible on mobile devices in several official South African languages.

The DHA’s presentation to Parliament outlined the steps to register on the app and schedule an appointment:

  1. Enter your ID number.
  2. Enter your details, including your full name and contact information.
  3. Confirm registration details and schedule a slot.
  4. The “Select Slot” page allows users to select a branch, date, and time slot.
  5. Users will then need to declare their health and Covid-19 status.
  6. Appointment details will then be summarised, allowing users to confirm, edit, or cancel their appointment.
  7. Once confirmed, a success page is displayed with the booking reference.

While most South Africans will be able to access the system, walk-in appointments will still be allowed for those unable to access the new app.

Khanyile said that the reservation system would improve service delivery at DHA offices throughout South Africa.

The roll-out of this new system complements the existing eHomeAffairs online portal, which was introduced in 2016.

eHomeAffairs allows citizens to apply for their Smart ID and passport online, then visit a bank branch or Home Affairs office with the necessary Smart ID equipment to capture their biometric data.

Regarding the new appointment system, the chair of the portfolio committee on Home Affairs, Mosa Chabane, said that they hope the system will be a significant intervention in saving the people of South Africa from standing in long queues, sometimes over successive days.

“We also welcome the innovation of linking the system to the National Population Register to insulate the system against illegal agents,” Chabane stated.

While this would improve booking systems, the DHA will have to implement network upgrades to keep the system online.

Home Affairs has drawn fire from the State IT Agency and the DA for procuring the cheapest possible IT service without any redundant network connectivity for branches.

A report presented to the portfolio committee showed that 90% of incidents of system downtime was caused by issues inside Home Affairs offices due to 88% of network equipment being obsolete.

“The DA will monitor the implementation of the appointment system closely,” Khanyile said.

The online booking system’s launch date is yet to be announced.

Article image by Nompendulo Ngubane for GroundUp. Published under CC BY-ND 4.0.

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