Khayelitsha residents march to Home Affairs

The protesters braved cold and wet weather to make their grievances against the Khayelitsha office known. Photo by Asive Mabula

Long snaking queues are the order of the day at the Khayelitsha Home Affairs office.

Khayelitsha residents alongside various social movements and organisations marched to the Khayelitsha Home Affairs offices on Tuesday to protest the poor services delivered there.

The public services campaign #UniteBehind organised the march, in collaboration with Social Justice Coalition (SJC), Neighbourhood Watch and Intlungu yaseMatyotyombeni. “We have tried to engage the manager here at home affairs multiple times and she said she will not communicate with strangers, we must take our grievances to our councilors or the Khayelitsha Development Forum,” said Lumkile Sizila, provincial organiser of #UniteBehind.

The Khayelitsha Home Affairs manager is accused of being arrogant by not showing willingness to hear the public’s grievances. “This march comes three months after trying to engage the home affairs manager. We were supposed to march earlier this month, however due to the taxi strike, we couldn’t. That’s why today we decided rain or sunshine we will be here,” said Sizila.

The elderly, new parents and the youth were some of the people to take to the stand and voice out how their lives have become difficult due to no help from home affairs.

“I applied for a late registration of birth in 2019 and it’s 2023, I still haven’t been called for an ID. Throughout my schooling I had to use a clinic card for identification,” said Thembakazi Thembani, a 25-year-old from Khayelitsha. Thembani was raised by her grandmother and has no contact or knowledge of her mother’s whereabouts. “I have two IDs and when I came with my child to do their ID, I was told my child can’t do an ID, because I am duplicated on the system. As a result, my child wrote their matric exams last year using a birth certificate,” said Nokuphiwa Booi. She added that, because of this, she is also struggling to get a social grant for her 2-year-old child, and she cannot open a bank account.

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#UniteBehind compiled a memorandum together with the participating organisations, that listed ten testimonials from people that have remained unassisted by the home affairs office, and demanded transparency, accountability, public participation and a prompt response from home affairs. “These are the few cases of many in the community of Khayelitsha, and as an organisation we believe that there are many cases that are not yet recorded,” reads the memorandum.

The memorandum was received by Bongiwe Sakawuli, district manager in charge of the Cape metro. “I am here to welcome your grievances as the home affairs manager is currently on family responsibility leave, and we will respond in 14 days as you have stated. I have heard all the grievances and I think some of the grievances are due to a lack of understanding policies and processes,” said Sakawuli.

Sakawuli urged the social movements present to organise the community, in partnership with home affairs, to make residents better understand their processes and policies in place.

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