Gov hopes more “mobile” Home Affairs will make a difference

  • The government is looking to launch 100 more mobile Home Affairs units in rural Limpopo next week.
  • This will bring the amount of units in service to over 200 units.
  • The units will hopefully bring Home Affairs services to rural areas in South Africa, but the department is still beset by a number of ills.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to unveil 100 new mobile Home Affairs offices in Limpopo next week, which according to a press statement from the presidency will, “extend the reach of the department’s services, especially in remote areas.”

The unveiling of the mobile offices will take place alongside the opening of a new Home Affairs office in Mokopane, Limpopo on 7th May 2024. The presidency explains that the rollout of the mobile offices is part of the Home Affairs’ Hybrid Access Model, which is a plan to expand access to Home Affairs services to people who don’t live in or near urban centres.

In November, the Department of Home Affairs detailed their Hybrid Access plans to Parliament’s portfolio committee. Its plans are to, over time, bolster static Home Affairs offices with mobile units across the country, which will become the department’s biggest service channel.

There should be around 130 existing mobile Home Affairs units now across South Africa, with most deployed in 2023. With the deployment of 100 more next week in Limpopo, there will be over 200. This is still short of the 778 service points the department said are still required, but since the units are mobile, a single unit will be able to cover multiple points.

What is a Home Affairs mobile unit?

So-called “mobile” Home Affairs are actually trucks, similar to the trucks metropolitan police use to catch wayward motorists and make it easier for them to pay outstanding fines.

A Home Affairs mobile unit truck. Image sourced from @African_Spring on X.

The government hopes to wheel them out to rural and less serviced areas to increase the turnaround for issuances like new identity documents and passports. “The use of mobile units is to close the gap in areas where there is no DHA footprint,” it told Parliament.

However, as of last year, two of the trucks were no longer roadworthy and one was involved in an accident.

The mobile units will also have Flat panel VSAT units, which will provide the staff within the trucks at least 3G connectivity via satellite so they can perform duties even in areas where there is no mobile connectivity.

Despite these actions, the department is beset by long-held and seemingly unfixable problems, such as endemic corruption of officials, and wide-ranging technical faults in its important systems. A nationwide outage at the beginning of 2024 meant that for two days, thousands of South Africans could not access their important documents, reports GroundUp.

Meanwhile, the department is rife with allegations of officials taking bribes for processing documentation. In February 2023, one official, a former employee, allegedly processed fraudulent passports for foreign nationals at the department’s office in Durban, taking bribes of R3 000 for each passport.

The Citizen reports that the former employee was using details of existing South African nationals to fabricate the documents for the foreign nationals. The department is still also weathering a number of other investigations in its dealings.

[Image – Photo by Mpho Mojapelo on Unsplash]


About Author


Related News