Sunday, 03 April 2022 15:29

Home Affairs services back online with extended operating hours.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The Department of Home Affairs says services at its offices have been restored countrywide after the department's systems went offline nationwide on Friday.

In a statement on Friday (1 April), the department said the 'unfortunate incident' was caused by a cable breakage that connects to the State Information Technology Agency (SITA).

Ministry spokesperson Siya Qoza said the department would extend operating hours to assist those affected.

"The Department of Home Affairs wishes to inform members of the public that services at the department have been restored. The department and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) have been able to fix the cable breakage that impacted service delivery on Friday," said Qoza.

The department will open until 18:30 and everyone who is in the office by this time will be assisted.

"The department appreciates the patience of the public on Friday and apologises for the inconvenience caused by the unfortunate network failure".

System downtime is a constant source of frustration for South Africans who are required to use Home Affairs offices for documentation purposes, with it not unusual to spend two hours or more to complete simple tasks such as applying for a passport.

Responding in recent a written parliamentary Q&A session, Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the downtime percentage for the 2020 – 21 financial year was 1.26%, with the downtime primarily related to cable theft.

Data provided by the minister shows the Kensington branch in KwaZulu-Natal, the Grove Mall in Gauteng and Galeshewe in the Northern Cape were some of the biggest downtime offenders over the last year.

By comparison, the downtime percentage between April 2021 and February 2022 period was closer to 5% (4.39%), primarily as a result of load shedding at some offices without generators.

Motsoaledi said that over this period the branches which were the biggest offenders included Mount Frere and Engcobo in the Eastern Cape, and Ganyesa in the North West.

The minister added that the department never closes its offices due to system downtimes and continued to render services that are not system-dependent such as births, marriages and deaths certificates.