Briefing with media by Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan following the official opening of the new Home Affairs Office in Wynberg, Cape Town
19 Sep 2011You will know that this is the opening of our new Wynberg Home Affairs Office.
You will see it has been completely redesigned for more effective and efficient service. We have moved this office from the Milbank premises and I hope the media will assist us in spreading this message because we do not want people to be frustrated when they go to the old premises and are told we have moved.
We do have signage and people will assist to redirect clients but your assistance in advertising this message will be very welcome and appreciated.
What is nice about these premises is, firstly, parking. There is an entire floor on the second level dedicated to Home Affairs and its clients. Also, the fact that people can come to Home Affairs in the normal course of their daily activities, shopping, going to the bank, etc. is something that will certainly make it easier for clients to access our services.
Within the offices you will see a more efficient way of managing queues – this has been prioritised. The first place clients go to is the information kiosk where clients can be assisted. If the information kiosk cannot fully deal with the issue, the client is directed to the appropriate queue. We hope that we will install the electronic queue management system in the next few months so that when people come into the office they are allocated a number and will be assisted accordingly. This will obviate the need for queues. This makes it more convenient and pleasant.
The staff are obviously excited – we have also prioritised the creation of an environment that promotes the wellbeing and dignity of our staff members and is something that all senior managers, of which DDG: Civic Services, Vusi Mkhize and the Provincial Manager Mr Yusuf Simons are part, are very keen on creating. We hope that as we move into the future, that most of our offices will eventually look like this one.
The manager of the office also has full view of the frontline operations of the office, from her office. I believe this makes all the difference in the world to our effectiveness. There are currently about 48 officials at this office and we mainly render civic services. We hope that in the next few months we will begin to roll out the rendering of immigration services as well. We will announce it when we are ready to implement this.
We will now be able to take your questions.
Questions and Answers
Question: Deputy Minister, we would like to commend your department on this new office. I have noticed that the staff are not wearing uniforms and are sometimes indistinguishable. Do you have plans to introduce uniforms?
Answer: (Deputy Minister Chohan) I met with the staff earlier and they have themselves identified in this need. However, in the interim they have decided to wear black and white as their own dress code. This will also assist in helping them to look more professional.
I do think this is absolutely vital going forward. I said to the staff earlier that while we are a serviced delivery department, we are also a security department. We are the frontline of our security services because without an ID, birth certificate, passport, organised crime cannot gain a foothold in our country. Certainly, in terms of the image we want to project going forward, this will be vital.
(DDG Vusi Mhkize) On this issue – we have been discussing this matter, including uniform designs and the cost analysis. It will be similar to the uniforms worn by our immigration officers. This was identified by both the Minister and Deputy Minister when to assumed office. We have therefore been benchmarking this exercise thus far so we can determine the way forward. But a uniform is imperative because it creates a sense of identity amongst staff members.
Question: Deputy Minister, you said this office is conducive to service delivery – can you please elaborate on this?
Answer: We have moved from the Milbank site to this site and I have therefore asked for your assistance in spreading this message. We have been at the Milbank site for many years and it has become part of people’s psyche. We cannot keep our signage up forever, so your assistance in this regard will be sincerely appreciated. People don’t go to Home Affairs everyday and may not always be aware that we have moved. We hope people who come to this mall will see the very clear signage we have put up.
We also know from experience that when Home Affairs has been in one premises for a long period of time, clients expect it to always be there.
The old premises was not very conducive. It was a dilapidated building without the new layout we have now. We also often ran into problems with electricity faults and other issues. We are hoping this move will eliminate such challenges. We are hopeful there will not be too many teething problems. We think this is a huge improvement from where we were.
Question: Deputy Minister, I’ve heard there will be webcams in this office – what is the purpose of this? Also the Barrack Street office and this one has been revamped. What other offices have been revamped in the Western Cape?
Answer: (Deputy Minister Chohan) The webcams are very important and I want to stress that while we are a service delivery department and we are as effective and efficient as possible, we also have the responsibility for the country’s security. Organized crime cannot take root without our documents. You will have seen in the last few months many reports of arrests of our officials throughout the country in an attempt to clamp down on corruption in our offices.
We want our officials to understand their role – to deliver effective and efficient services but frontline offices, when it comes to the fight against crime and corruption in our country, must help government to fight this scourge. We have been stressing this aspect of our work and our jobs. Our officials must regard themselves as our primary frontline onslaught against criminality and particularly organized crime in this country. We hope our officials will come to understand this and see themselves in this light. Webcams are there to give us some comfort that our security systems are not infringed upon, through corruption or mistakes. People will monitor the activities in this office through these webcams with a view to minimising the risks we face as an office.
(Mr Yusuf Simons) The webcams can be accessed remotely so Deputy Minister or Mr Mkhize can observe our activities even from Pretoria and if they believe an intervention is required, can intervene immediately. Everything happens in real time.
We prioritised Barack Street and the Wynberg Office because these are our biggest offices and experienced the most challenges. We must also work on improving service delivery and changing the mindsets of our staff.
Going forward we are looking at revamping the Belleville office and Paarl. We have also identified space for a revamped Paarl office.
(DDG Mkhize) On the webcams, the power of knowledge is invaluable. And will assist us to improve our service delivery levels especially if officials know there is ongoing monitoring and assessment as well as real time interventions.
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
19 Sep 2011
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