Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced on Tuesday that the department will offer limited services to the public for the duration of lockdown level 3.
He was speaking during a media briefing by the national coronavirus command council (NCCC) on the newly amended regulations.
The briefing comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday that SA would remain on alert level 3 with some changes to the restrictions, including the closure of land borders and the curfew in place from 9pm to 5am.
Motsoaledi said the new restrictions will limit the number of people flocking to the department’s offices and help reduce the spread of Covid-19.
Here’s everything you need to know:
Social distancing at home affairs offices is a challenge
At the start of lockdown in March last year, home affairs suspended most services but reinstated them later in the year during level 1. The minister said social distancing across all home affairs offices in SA proved to be a challenge despite floor markings.
“It became clear that inside the offices some form of the protocol was adhered to, but outside it was a nightmare, regardless of the fact that there were markings. People ignored them.
“When officials and inspectors tried to enforce the rules, they people would momentarily observe them but when officials turned their backs on them they would gather again in large numbers.”
More than half the department’s offices have been shut since the start of the lockdown last year. The minister said 4,502 of the 5,734 civic services employees either contracted the coronavirus, were close contacts of infected individuals or had family members who had tested positive for Covid-19.
“Between March and December 2020, 532 staff members in the civic branch tested positive for Covid-19, mostly in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. In the first eight days of January 2021, we already had 116 staff members who tested positive [mostly from the same provinces].”
Motsoaledi said the department saw a spike in death registrations in December 2020 compared to the same month in previous years.
Here’s the breakdown:
- December 2018: 26,825;
- December 2019: 38,620;
- December 2020: 55,676.
On January 4 and 5, the first two working days this year, the department registered 10,582 deaths. Motsoaledi said the department anticipates the demand for death registrations will increase exponentially this year.
To mitigate the spread of Covid-19, the department has suspended some services.
- Smart ID applications, with the exception for matric pupils;
- marriage registrations, solemnisation and end of marriage registrations; and
- ID collections, unless clients received messages from the department.
Hospitals with home affairs offices will offer birth and death registrations. A full list can be accessed on the department’s website. The department will extend its working hours for death and births registrations.
By Cebelihle Bhengu