Home Affairs left in the dark

An empty Home Affairs office in Mitchell's Plain.

Mitchell’s Plain residents were left high and dry after the electricity of the Department of Home Affairs’ offices in Beacon Valley was cut for a week.

According to Home Affairs spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete, the problem is between the Department of Public Works and the landlord.

The Plainsman visited the offices on Wednesday September 15 and found an empty, dark Home Affairs with residents sitting outside. Residents from various parts of Mitchell’s Plain were turned away.

We asked Mr Tshwete on Thursday September 16 why the cuts occurred and what the estimated time-frame was going to be until the electricity was restored.

“We cannot confirm the time-frame; all we know is that it’s been on and off. I cannot comment on the reason and if it will happen again,” Mr Tshwete said.

A frustrated Felicia Josephs from Tafelsig said she was at Home Affairs twice in one week, and was told that they are “unfortunately offline” and told to come back the next day.

Ms Josephs said she had to go to the Bellville Home Affairs branch to sort out her matters.

“It is very disappointing, and we can’t guarantee proper services from this department. I was told the day before that Home Affairs will be closed because they have not paid their bills,” she said.

A Montrose Park resident, who does not want to be named, said she went to Home Affairs to get a temporary ID twice, but left without being assisted.

“I had to put everything on hold, I was at Home Affairs in the space of two weeks, but every time I come they are offline. They can at least inform residents beforehand or have proper notifications via SMS or even on the website so that we don’t waste time,” she said.

Ziniso Calmash from Khayelitsha said she needed to apply for her child’s birth certificate but was turned away.

Ms Calmash said she travelled from Khayelitsha to use the services in Mitchell’s Plain, but was upset when she was turned away.

“We have to spend money and take time out to come to Home Affairs. Now we have to go back home, the officials don’t even know when it (electricity) will be on again – poor services,” she said.

Another resident from Westgate Villas who had to get a death certificate for the janaazah of a family member, was also not helped at the Mitchell’s Plain offices.

“The resident said: “People come to Home Affairs for important documents, but are turned away. This is the only Home Affairs in Mitchell’s Plain, they should be up and running as it services hundreds of people. They need to fix the problem and service our community,” he said.

Ernest Sonnenberg, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for utility services, said the country has not been experiencing load-shedding recently so this cannot be the cause of the alleged power disruption as speculated.

“Additionally, the City’s electricity services department has no record of any disconnection of supply, fault logged, or planned or unplanned maintenance at the facility.

Mr Tshwete said the electricity has been restored.