The Department of Home Affairs will soon offer services at shopping malls across South Africa starting this September.
Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi made the revelation during his 2022/23 Budget Vote speech in Parliament on Tuesday (25 May).
Home Affairs services at malls
“Operating Home Affairs offices at malls will obviate the problem of queuing in the sun or rain. Malls will also provide convenient and safe parking for clients,” Motsoaledi said.
The Department has earmarked the following malls to start with:
- Menlyn mall in Pretoria.
- Cresta mall in Johannesburg.
- Southgate mall in Johannesburg.
- The Pavillion in eThekwini.
- Tygervalley mall in Cape Town.
“It is hoped that the Cresta mall operation will help relieve the much-maligned Randburg offices and operations in the Pavillion mall will relieve the pressure on our Umgeni offices which are often not well spoken about,” the Minister added.
“Since the malls still have to move some tenants around to make way for Home Affairs, we will install our equipment there around September this year. We shall start with the Menlyn mall in Pretoria and then roll-out to the rest.”
The Department also started offering services via South Africa’s major banks in recent months. The partnership allowed members of the public to apply for passports and IDs without having to visit Home Affairs offices, thereby easing queues at these offices.
However, Motsoaledi said the partnership has not worked “as fast as we envisaged because the banks are worried of reputational damage that our system downtime would cause them.”
“Remember that for them to offer Home Affairs services, they need to verify the details of the client by using our system. If there is downtime the banks also get stuck. We believe that as soon as their own engineers have helped us to increase system uptime, the banks will cheerfully open their doors for Home Affairs services,” he explained.
The Department is also planning to build new infrastructure to replace some of its existing offices. 15 “high-volume” offices will be built across several provinces under the framework of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Council.
Branch Appointment Booking System
Another major announcement the Minister made is the Branch Appointment Booking System (BABS), a new online booking system currently piloted at 24 Home Affairs branches.
“The results of these 24 pilots are encouraging and we will be rolling out this system to more offices and also run a campaign to increase awareness,” he explained.
“The pilot started in December last year at the Byron and Akasia offices in a hybrid model allowing booked and walk-in clients. A total of 33,463 people have used the system between December 2021 and 13 May 2022.”