Home Affairs Nightmare at SA Missions Abroad
Home Affairs Nightmare at SA Missions Abroad. Photo: iStockPhoto

The Democratic Alliance has called on Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, to address the ongoing nightmare of accessing Home Affairs services at South African missions abroad.

In a parliamentary budget vote debate on Tuesday, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Adrian Roos, labelled the 18 to 24 month turnaround time to process ID and passport applications from SA missions abroad a disgrace.

This is further compounded by waiting times whereby it now takes months to simply apply for documents.

Roos recalled a plea from a South Africa citizen in Ireland who waited for 10 months for her son’s passport application only to be told the passport cannot be processed because there was no ID; and challenged the Minister on how the passport application can even be accepted without an ID, setting the applicant back months.

SAPeople has been contacted by countless South Africans living abroad who are suffering from similar set-backs, and who endure lengthy wait times with zero communication despite sending emails and phoning daily. Getting a response can feel like a miracle, rather than a constitutional right. Several South Africans, who would have seriously considered annual holidays to SA (spending their well-earned dollars or pounds), retiring in SA or purchasing investment properties, have given up and relinquished their SA citizenship.

“It’s frustrating because we South Africans are entitled to a passport, but even trying to access instructions on how to apply for a new passport at the LA consulate is a nightmare,” says one Californian resident.

A South African in London said: “I applied for my ‘passport renewal’ documents in Oct 2021 via the SA High Commissioner in London through the postal service, as per their suggestions on the website. I have repeatedly tried to make contact with the High Commissioner’s office in London to no avail… I have also checked the various websites and/or avenues to find out who I can contact for help regarding feedback and the status of my application. My situation is now getting desperate and I need to get back to SA but my passport has since expired…”

Others are illegally flying to South Africa on a foreign passport, and then renewing their SA passport whilst in SA. For most of the lucky ones, within two weeks – sometimes even a few days – they have their precious new SA passport in their hands. This ‘loophole’ is illegal though because a South African citizen has to, by law, enter and leave SA on a South African passport. It is possible to fly into SA on a South African passport up to 24 hours before it expires.

A DA petition on Home Affairs services at SA Missions abroad has been in the petitions process in parliament for well over a year. The DA says it will call for a debate on this issue in the National Assembly to step up the pressure on the Minister to act.