State of Home Affairs in the provinces: Free State, Northern Cape, North West

Home Affairs

05 September 2011
Chairperson: Ms M Maunye (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Home Affairs Provincial Manager for the Free State briefed Members on the state of the province, with reference to the provincial profile, provincial management, the Department’s footprint in the Free State, provincial capacity – filled and unfilled posts, service delivery channels – improving access, corruption prevention and prosecution, provincial finances – budget and expenditure, strategic overview, Free State turn-around times, and conclusions.

The Department of Home Affairs Provincial Manager for the Northern Cape, briefed Members on the state of the province, with reference to the provincial profile, provincial management – organogram, provincial capacity – filled and unfilled posts, strategic overview, provincial turnaround times, service delivery channels – improving access, provincial finances – budget and expenditure, corruption prevention and prosecution, and conclusions.

The Department of Home Affairs Provincial Manager for the North West, briefed Members on the state of the province, with reference to background, strategic overview, national outcomes, Departmental strategic goals, provincial management – organogram, the Department’s footprint in the North West, North West turn-around times, service delivery channels – improving access, provincial capacity – filled and unfilled posts, provincial finances – budget and expenditure, corruption prevention and prosecution, challenges, and achievements.

A Democratic Alliance Member asked all three Provincial Managers about the willingness of their marriage officers to conduct same-sex marriages, and if these three provinces registered children of parents of the same sex. The new Children's Act covered surrogacy and adoption by same-sex parents, but the Department appeared not to have changed its systems. She asked what the Department understood by the word 'inclusive'. What did inclusive citizenship actually mean? She also asked about vacant, unfunded posts. This was an important and serious issue; otherwise the percentage of the capacity at which the Department was working could not be calculated. These presentations did not speak to the National Strategic Plan, which set certain targets. It was important how long it took an applicant to receive his or her identity document from the date of application, not the turn-around time for the stage of processing done at provincial offices. She asked the Northern Cape where its nearest refugee reception office was located, and if the province had personal and vehicle scanners at all its ports. Vehicle scanners, as used at Beitbridge, were important to detect illegal immigrants concealed amid items of cargo. She also told the North West that she rejected, as a white person, being classified as non-African. She asked the North West about the collusion of South African citizens who aided and abetted illegal foreigners to acquire enabling documents. A second Democratic Alliance Member spoke about people from Lesotho who resided in South Africa and used the benefits that were intended for South Africans. He also asked to what extent the Department was prioritising vetting to avoid corruption, how long it would take to hire persons to fill the funded vacancies, affirmed the necessity to list the vacant, unfunded positions, and asked what procedures were used against illegal foreigners and what impact this had on the Department's budget. A Member asked all provinces if they had any plan to increase the number of disabled people employed in the Department, about the impact of the increase in the price of applications for reissuing ID documents and passports, and if the Department reported to the Department of Social Development people who had wrongfully received social grants. A Member noted that there was little about revenue collection in the presentations.

The Chairperson clarified that the use of scanners was the responsibility of the South African Revenue Service which was now the lead department at ports of entry. The Chairperson asked about the status of the Department's mobile units. Were they fully equipped and in working order? How often did they visit the remote villages? She observed that following the enactment of the Civil Union Act, marriage officers had been trained for the purpose of same-sex marriages, but marriage officers who were unwilling to conduct such marriages for religious or other reasons should not be forced to do so. Perhaps there was need for the Committee to meet the Director-General on this subject.

Meeting report

Free State Department of Home Affairs presentation
Mr Bonakele Mayekiso, Provincial Manager for the Free State, Department of Home Affairs (DHA, the Department), described what was unique about the Free State (slide 3). He noted that it contributed 5.5% of the economy of South Africa, had an average economic growth rate of 2%, and had the largest harvest of maize and grain in the country. It was the safest province in the country. The African National Congress (ANC) held the largest number of seats in the legislature, followed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Congress of the People (COPE).

Provincial offices
The Department’s offices were well spread in the province which made it easy for the people to access its services. New offices had been opened and gave a better image of the Department. Municipalities had provided some permanent service points for free (slide 4).

New operating model
Mr Mayekiso described the new operating model for provincial management and its demarcation (chart, slide 5); showed maps illustrating the Department’s current and projected footprint in the province (slides 6-7); indicated the distribution of DHA offices (slide 8); the DHA’s footprint in various district and local municipalities (tables, slides 9-13); and reviewed service delivery channels. – improving access. Services were available at seven Thusong Centres, 22 small offices, 11 mobile offices, 38 centres, and via the Matriculates Outreach Programme to a total of 265 high schools of which 125 were visited. From these schools there were 3 752 ID applications and 812 IDs were distributed (slide 14).

Provincial capacity
Provincial capacity: filled and unfilled posts was indicated. Provincial capacity was at 81%. Filed vacancies numbered 504, and vacant funded posts 114. The Department had short-listed and interviewed 16 people out of this 114 (slide 15).

The staff profile included eight disabled persons (1.58% of the total number of employees) (table, slide 16).

Corruption prevention and prosecution figures were provided (tables, slides 17-18).

Stakeholder Forum
The DHA Stakeholder Forum was established to enhance consultation with communities at provincial district and local level (slide 19).

Finances
Figures were given for provincial finances – budget and expenditure (table 20), provincial asset reconciliation (table, slide 21), and the business unit first quarter financial report.

Strategic overview
The strategic overview (slide 22), outcomes derived from Government's Mandate and the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) (slide 23), list of National Agenda 12 items (slide 24), and commitments for the Department in the Minister Performance Agreement (PA)(slide 25-26) were reviewed.

Mr Mayekiso pointed out that the DHA was a security Department that sought to put a value on identity and citizenship, and ensure that all documents from the Department were valid.

The Department was making great efforts to encourage birth registration within 30 days, and to this end had established service centres in hospitals and clinics

Turnaround times
Figures were given for the Free State turn-around times (tables 27- 29), birth registration statistics within 30 days (table, slide 30), ID applications (1st applications) (tables, slide 31), schools (table, slide 32), late registration of births, table, slide 33), duplicates cases (tables, slide 34), passport applications (table, slide 35), immigration statistics (table, slide 36), and statistics of queries (table, slide 37).

Photographs, including view of new offices, Maseru Bridge, and a system for taking fingerprints were shown (slide 38 -42).

(Please refer to the presentation document for full details. For technical reasons, it may not have been possible to reproduce the photographs.)

Northern Cape Department of Home Affairs presentation
Provincial offices
Mr Abednigo Mvula, Provincial Manager for Northern Cape, Department of Home Affairs, reviewed district municipalities and population (slide 3), provincial offices: civic services (map, slide 4), provincial offices: offices at ports of entry (slide 5), service points (table, slide 6), and distribution of offices in district municipalities (tables, slides 7-8) and within province (slide 9).

Mr Mvula pointed out that, in collaboration with the Department of Public Works, the DHA sought to connect hospitals in order to offer services and reduce travelling times for clients requiring to register births and deaths.

Provincial capacity
Figures and information on provincial capacity (table, slide 10), with particular reference to training (slide, table 11), persons with disabilities (table, slide 12), and management teams at regional offices (chart slide 13) and border posts (chart, slide 14) were provided.

A strategic overview together with outcomes from the Government mandate and MTSF, the National Agenda and the Minister's Performance Agreement was given (slides 15-19).

Provincial statistics
Provincial statistics were provided (tables, slides 20-26), with particular reference to the Inspectorate Section (tables slide 27), transgressions, arrests, detentions and deportations (slide 28), Permit Section (table, slide 29) and Immigration (table, slide 30).

Mr Mvula said that the DHA in the Northern Cape did not have many misconduct cases.

Mr Mvula pointed out the new queue management system in DHA offices to facilitate more convenient access for clients.

Mr Mvula said that community development workers (CDWs) were assisting the DHA in the Northern Cape to distribute ID documents. 'People are still friendly' in the Northern Cape, and such an approach was both viable and successful.

Measures were in place to monitor service delivery, including the availability of suggestions and complaints boxes, and clients' opportunity to have access to provincial champions whose photographs were displayed at DHA offices. Moreover, there was an open door policy to senior provincial managers. Refurbishment of service offices was ongoing. Stakeholder forums had been established.

The Department was concerned at registration of non-existent babies for purposes of fraudulently claiming child support grants, and was taking special measures to prevent this.

Finances
Provincial finances, budget and expenditure were reviewed (tables, slides 31- 32).

Communications strategy and service delivery
The Department's Communication strategy was described, together with stakeholder forums, and the special Mbombozi project (slides 32-37), measures in place to monitor service delivery (slide 38) and achievements and challenges (slides 39-40). Photographs were shown (slides 41-42).

Mr Mvula noted among challenges the long turn-around time for client enquires, for example, duplicate ID documents, and sufficiency of office space.

(Please refer to the presentation document for full details.)

North West Department of Home Affairs presentation
Notes on the North West Province
Ms Irene Mantlhasi, Acting Provincial Manager for the North West, Department of Home Affairs, said that the North West Province was home to about 3.9 million people. The Province was also known as the Platinum Province and was centrally located on the subcontinent with direct road and rail links to all southern African countries. Agriculture was of extreme importance to the North West province. About 64 000 (1.7% of the North West population) worked in the agricultural sector and it contributed about 2.6% through value added for the economy in 2006 (slides 3-4).

A strategic overview, with reference to the Minister's performance agreement in terms of national outcomes was given (slides 5-6).

New operating model
The provincial management and demarcation new operating model was described (chart, slide 7) and notes (slide 8).

The Department's footprint in the province was described (map slide 9; tables, slides 10-13).

Service delivery
Statistics were given for service delivery turn around times (tables, slides 14-16), other statistics (tables, slides 17-20), and improvements to service delivery access (slide 21).

Photographs were shown (slides 22-36)

Provincial capacity
The staff was profiled (table, slide 37), and figures given on the filling of posts (table, slide 38), filled and unfilled posts (table, slide 39). A table of positions held in an acting capacity together with salaries was provided: a total of R1 205 491.50 was spent on remuneration of staff in acting capacities (Acting remuneration table, slide 40).

Provincial finances budget and expenditure
Figures were provided (table slide 41), with observations on financial reporting for August 2011; under expenditure on goods and services was explained: the budget was received in June 2011 – commitments were not yet paid (table, slide 42). Projects to improve expenditure were indicated (slide 43)

Measures to maintain asset register
Such measures were described (slide 44).

Figures for corruption prevention and prosecution were provided (table, slide 45).

Challenges and achievements were reviewed (slides 46-48).

Ms Mantlhasi noted as especial challenges the high mileages logged by the Department's vehicles, a lack of holding cells for illegal immigrants, the collusion of South African citizens and syndicates in aiding and abetting illegal immigrants to acquire enabling documents, money collected and banked but without sufficient documentation for audit purposes, the need for a sustainable network system, and the importance of achieving connections at private hospitals in order to provide services to clients requiring to register births.

(Please refer to the presentation document for full details.)

Discussion
The Chairperson said that there was concern that a certain border post - Makopong – would be closed. Some travellers from Botswana, or from South Africa to Botswana, might face inconvenience. She asked the Department to clarify.

Ms Mantlhasi replied that this particular border post was surrounded by farms. The nearest village was Makopong on the Botswana side that was near the border post. Most of the travellers passing through that border post came from Botswana, and only a few came from South Africa. The distance from Makopong and the fact that it was a gravel road was a poor reflection on South Africa; also most of the people in that area were farmers and their stock could easily be stolen. An immigration officer had been found stealing goats from Botswana and selling them in South Africa, and vice versa there were goats taken from South Africa and sold in Botswana. We should not look at the statistics of the people crossing the border. It was rather more important to focus on maintaining the integrity of the border and preserving South Africa's livestock.

The Chairperson accepted that this was understandable.

Ms A Lovemore (DA) welcomed the familiar faces from the North West Province. She said that none of the marriage officers at the Department of Home Affairs office in Port Elizabeth were religiously inclined to perform same-sex marriages; therefore the Department could not perform same-sex marriages there in terms of the Civil Union Act 2006 (Act No. 17 of 2006). She asked all three Provincial Managers about the willingness of their marriage officers to conduct same-sex marriages, and about 'the registration of children born to same-sex parents' through surrogacy or sperm donation, which was not possible previously because the Department's forms required ' a male and a female – a mother and a father', and actually rejected ID document numbers that were 'same-sex'. Could these three provinces register children of parents of the same sex?

The Chairperson exempted the officials from answering questions on sperm donors. The Committee would have to examine the relevant legislation and maybe review it. She did not think that there was a decision around it.

Ms Lovemore said that the new Children's Act 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005) covered surrogacy and adoption by same-sex parents. However, to the best of her knowledge, the Department had not changed its systems; but it was allowed by law.

The Chairperson said that it was the Committee's duty to change the legislation according to the Children's Act, so she did not think the officials would be able to respond.

Ms Lovemore wanted to know the Department's understanding of the word 'inclusive'. The provinces were working towards helping the Minister achieve her performance agreement. 'Inclusive' was used in the context of developing a workforce, and in particular with regard to citizenship. What did inclusive citizenship actually mean?

Ms Lovemore also asked about vacant, unfunded posts. The first province (Free State) had said that this was not important, because it did not have money anyway. However, this was an important and serious issue; otherwise the percentage of the capacity at which the Department was working could not be calculated. 81% was not the capacity for one of the provinces.

Ms Lovemore observed that these presentations did not speak to the National Strategic Plan, which set certain targets.

Ms Lovemore said that for her it was important how long it took an applicant to receive his or her identity (ID) document from the date of application; she noted that the presentations referred to the turn-around time at provincial offices but excluding the time taken for processing at the Department's head office. The total time was not being reported upon by the provinces, but was in the National Strategic Plan. Was it actually being monitored by the provinces?

Ms Lovemore asked the Northern Cape where its nearest refugee reception office was located.

Ms Lovemore also asked the Northern Cape how many asylum transit visas it issued, and hoped that it kept a record of them.

Ms Lovemore also asked the Northern Cape if it had personal and vehicle scanners at all its ports. Vehicle scanners, as used at Beitbridge, were important to detect illegal immigrants concealed amid items of cargo.
The Chairperson clarified that the use of scanners was the responsibility of the South African Revenue Service (SARS). It would be difficult for the officials to respond to that question.

Ms Lovemore asked if the Department was still the lead department at ports of entry.

The Chairperson clarified that SARS was now the lead department at ports of entry. The responsibility had been transferred from Home Affairs because of capacity and resource issues.

Ms Lovemore said that she would leave aside the Free State. Her colleague would follow-up on the question of the fraudulent Lesotho ID documents.

Ms Lovemore also told the North West that she rejected, as a white person, being classified as non-African. This was not acceptable for a governmental department.

Ms Lovemore asked the North West if all its ports of entry had water available.

Ms Lovemore asked the North West about the collusion of South African citizens who aided and abetted illegal foreigners to acquire enabling documents (slide 46). However, on the previous page there was only one case listed. What was the extent of this problem? She noted that when the Committee was on oversight in the North West, it had been told that the Department, after investigation, had 'cancelled' some marriages. However, Ms Lovemore thought that the word should be 'annulled'. Could this be done under existing legislation? Was there an ongoing process of investigating marriages between South Africans and foreigners, and was the Department 'cancelling' where necessary and on what basis?

Ms H Makhuba (IFP) asked about the vacant positions. Ms Mantlhasi had said that many positions were held in an acting capacity. To Ms Makhuba this sounded like Hollywood. The vacant posts were a problem every time the Committee received presentations from the Department.

Ms Makhuba asked all provinces about the situation of people with disabilities. Northern Cape had said something about it, but the number was too little. Did the provinces have any plan to increase the number of disabled people employed in the Department?

Ms Makhuba asked all provinces about the impact of the increase in the price of applications for reissuing ID documents and passports.

Ms Makhuba was concerned about the schools programme. There was a big difference between the number of applications for ID documents and the numbers of ID documents issued. She thought that the schools project would have been the easiest project for the issuing of ID documents. Only 723 ID books had been delivered in the Free State, while there had been 3 305 applications from students. What was the problem there?

Ms Makhuba asked the Northern Cape and the Free State about the situation of death certificates when it was discovered that the deceased had two ID documents. In this situation, the children or relatives of the deceased could claim insurance to cover the cost of burial. Most insurance companies did not accept temporary death certificates. How did the Department assist those people?

Ms Makhuba asked the Free State, which the Committee had visited on oversight the previous year, about some families crossing over from Lesotho and using one paper for the entire family to enter and leave South Africa.

Ms Makhuba had heard that some Lesotho citizens were receiving social grants in the Free State. She asked for confirmation.

Ms Makhuba asked if the Department turned in people who had wrongfully received social grants to the Department of Social Development, since such people had to repay them?

Ms S Rwexana (COPE) noted that there was nothing about revenue collection in the presentations. She asked if there were mechanisms to monitor corruption. She asked about the reported loss of a bag of passports? She asked the Northern Cape, which was a vast province, how it distributed the ID documents. She congratulated the North West on its visits to the primary schools. She wished that the other provinces could do the same. She asked the Northern Cape and the Free State about their outreach programmes, especially to reduce late registration of births – however, there was no clarity in the reports on that issue.

Ms P Maduna (ANC) said that the issue of misconduct in the Northern Cape did not appear on the slides, although the Northern Cape had said that there were a few cases. Members needed that information. The North West had said nothing about persons with disabilities. Although the two provinces had said something about persons with disabilities, she thought that the number was still very low. How many of the mobile offices allocated to the North West were fully functional? What was the justification to establish an office in “Getwane” (sp), a local municipality in the Free State?

Mr M Mnqasela (
DA) spoke about people from Lesotho who resided in South Africa and used the benefits that were intended for South Africans. Members would recall that he had raised a question with Mr Jackie McKay, Deputy Director-General: Immigration, Department of Home Affairs, and in writing with the Minister. However, the question had not really been answered. The problem here was the villages on the border of Lesotho with the Eastern Cape, and he was confident that the Eastern Cape would be able to answer. However, he wanted to check the impact on the area of operation of Maseru, where there were people from Lesotho, who because of the benefit of language, were claiming to be South Africans, and in fact obtaining housing subsidies, social grants, and even claiming land.

Mr Mnqasela asked generic questions, beginning with the element of corruption. To what extent was the Department prioritising vetting to avoid corruption? This was a serious factor affecting all the provinces. It was important to examine the symptoms and the cause, and prosecute perpetrators.

Mr Mnqasela asked about the filling of posts. How long, within the current financial year 2011/12, would it take to hire persons to fill the funded vacancies?

Mr Mnqasela was concerned about non-funded positions. It was indeed necessary to list them, for reasons that he would not repeat.

Mr Mnqasela asked what the expected financial impact of the new offices on the financial figures would be. Was there enough money to open these offices?

Mr Mnqasela asked the North West what the 532 unfunded positions were.

Mr Mnqasela noted that the Northern Cape had made progress in identifying, arresting and even deporting illegal foreigners, and asked the North West what procedures it used against illegal foreigners, without being seen to be targeting foreigners. What impact did these procedures have on the Department's budget?

The Chairperson asked about the status of the Department's mobile units. Were they fully equipped and in working order?

The Chairperson asked the Northern Cape how often its mobile units visited the remote villages in such a vast area.

Mr Mayekiso replied that there were three officials in the Free State [who could solemnise same-sex marriages] and one of these had been sent to the Eastern Cape to assist.

Mr Mayekiso replied that originally the Free State had listed vacant unfunded posts in its slides, but had decided that, if funds were not available, that these positions should not be listed. However, the Free State appreciated the need to include them in order to understand the bigger picture.

Mr Mayekiso responded the figure of four days for turn-around applied to the time for processing at the provincial office, not at the head office. Within four days, that application must be at head office. There was also a time lag for Express Parcel Services (EPS) to transport these applications to head office. The total time-line for ID documents was 54 or 55 days. When the provincial office received an ID document, it had to make sure that within a day that ID document was given to the client. The provincial office was not reporting on the whole cycle of the ID document process. Sometimes, ID applications took longer than 54 days, depending on what was happening in head office. Sometimes the process took less than 54 days.

Mr Mayekiso replied that the Department was targeting to employ more disabled people to increase, from eight, the number of persons in the Department's employ in the Free State who were persons with disabilities.

Mr Mayekiso said that, because of the price increases for ID documents, there had been a temporary drop in the number of applications. The increase had had a big impact in the last days of the old price, when offices had to stay open late for several days in order to receive last-minute applications.

Mr Mayekiso replied that the figures for collections of ID documents from schools were mixed with figures for collections from the main office of the area. Some adults applied at the schools, and some learners collected their ID documents from the main office of the area. The Department now planned to keep separate statistics. Despite the apparent low numbers, the schoolchildren did collect their ID documents.

Mr Mayekiso replied to the question on duplicate ID documents that there were people at head office to whom the provincial office spoke to speed up the process. The matter of duplicate ID documents was easily resolved.

Mr Mayekiso said that the Department now required a full passport for entrants from Lesotho. Lesotho had agreed to accelerate the issuing of passports to its people.

Mr Mayekiso acknowledged the problem that some Lesotho citizens took advantage of grants. It was a complex problem. The Department had a project, which had begun in Mpumalanga, to check all the people in the border towns and collect their details. In Ficksburg many people did not have birth certificates or ID documents because they could not prove that they were South African citizens. The Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Social Development was aware of the problem and had asked how these people could be helped. Some of them had lived there for years.

Mr Mayekiso replied to a question on a local office. From that office the Department would be able to serve another two towns, without having to send a mobile facility from Bethlehem.

Mr Mayekiso said that a bag of new passports had been lost. The person who had signed to acknowledge receipt was on sick leave and could not be questioned. The matter was under investigation. Applicants who had been subject to delay as a result of the loss were being assisted.

Mr Mayekiso replied to a question on outreach. The Department visited hospitals, crèches, and schools. However, the province had not included statistics. He acknowledged their importance.

Mr Mayekiso said that the Department had 11 mobiles in the Free State. Nine of these were fully functional. The others had small problems and were being repaired.

Mr Mayekiso said that the Department had not included a slide on revenue, since revenue was one of the reasons that it had had a bad report, but the Department had monthly revenue reports per office. It had prioritised assets. Now that the matter of assets was complete, it would work on reporting on revenue. It had appointed senior accounting officers (SAOs). In the past, people had not always kept necessary receipts and documents. This caused confusion when the Auditor-General visited, and found that money had been banked, but without documentation.
 
Mr Mvula added that as soon as an ID document application was processed in the office of application it was scanned on a track and trace system, and a short message service (SMS) message was sent to the applicant to inform him or her. When the ID document was received from head office, another SMS was sent to the applicant to inform him or her that the ID document was ready to collect. Thus it was important that the local office scanned the ID document on receipt from the head office.

Mr Mvula replied that the Northern Cape did not have a reception office at present. Determining to which refugee reception centre a client should be sent would depend on the place of origin of the client.

Mr Mvula replied that the Northern Cape had just passed the 2% mark on employment of persons with disabilities. The Department ensured that all offices, when refurbished, were made compliant.

Mr Mvula replied that the Northern Cape had also targeted the lower grades and had acquired a database from the Department of Basic Education to assist in the ID document scheme for schools.

Mr Mvula replied that in any office there was always a residual amount of documents in respect of passports and ID documents, except in the case of emergency passports, temporary identification documents, and birth certificates, which were issued on the spot.

Mr Mvula replied that in the Northern Cape the Department was completing 'the old measures' and beginning 'the new measures'.

Mr Mvula said that Mr Mayekiso had dealt with the question of duplicates.

Mr Mvula replied that the Department had outsourced the collection and banking of revenue, in excess of R5 000 a day, to private security cash-in-transit companies to ensure that the money was safeguarded. The Department did returns on a daily and on a monthly basis to ensure reconciliation.

Mr Mvula conceded that the Department should submit a slide on misconduct cases in the Northern Cape.

Mr Mvula replied that it was a Departmental policy to report on the vacant funded posts – 'on the warm bodies'. Once a post was included and approved in the MTSF it was reported on.

Mr Mvula replied that it was a policy of the Department that no official was appointed without having first been vetted.

Mr Mvula replied that for an office to function efficiently, it needed adequate information technology (IT), connectivity and transport.

Mr Mvula replied that with the cooperation of the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Department conducted raids and spot-checks, if there was reason to believe that there was employment of illegal people.

Mr Mvula replied that the Department used nine mobile units in the Northern Cape. Previously it had used 12, but because of other projects, the other three were seconded to other provinces. One truck would be returned soon, and of the nine, seven were now fully functional, which was pleasing.

Mr Mvula replied that there was a technical team to repair the vehicles.

Mr Mvula said that the trucks went out on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis, depending on distance and on how many people could be served.

Ms F Khoza, Director: Finance, Northern Cape, Department of Home Affairs, replied that, for the two offices that the Department intended to open in the Northern Cape, people had been employed already – in particular the front office staff and the chief administrative staff. She gave the example of Barkly West. The opening of the office at Barkly West would reduce the number of places that the mobiles had to visit.

Ms Lovemore asked if civil union marriages could be conducted in the Northern Cape between persons of the same sex.

Ms Lovemore told the Northern Cape that it was absolutely essential that Members were told about vacant, unfunded posts. It was quite frankly misleading to say that vacant, unfunded posts constituted a 'wish-list' and then to say that the Department was operating at 81% capacity in the Northern Cape on the basis of figures which excluded the vacant, unfunded positions. If not to report on vacant, unfunded posts was a Departmental strategy, then Ms Lovemore was very concerned.

Mr Mvula replied that he would not give the figures of marriage officers in the Northern Cape who conducted such marriages; however, marriage officers were trained, and a decision was reached that if a particular marriage officer was unwilling to conduct such a marriage, then another officer must assist. He had not received any report that a client had come to an office to apply for such a marriage and had not been helped.

Ms Lovemore inferred that the marriage officers had been trained but that Mr Mvula did not know whether any of them had religious or other objections to conducting such marriages.

Mr Mvula replied that the Department had a good number of officers conducting same sex marriages. If any officer did not want to conduct such a marriage, the Department would want to know why. The Department was obliged to comply with the Civil Union Act. There had been no reports of refusals.

Ms Mantlhasi said that the issue of same-sex marriages had been difficult at first for the North West. However, now in the North West there was no office which had complained that it was without a marriage officer who was prepared to conduct such a marriage.

Ms Mantlhasi said that in future she would ensure that the North West reported in conformity with the National Strategy.

Ms Mantlhasi said that there was a recurrent problem with sewerage and water supply at a certain border post. There had also been a problem with accommodation.

Ms Mantlhasi said that the problem of collusion was continuing. She referred at length to a case. Poor people did not understand how marriages were conducted. 'We need to go out and educate our people'. There was need for a thorough campaign. Most tuck-shops in that area were run by Pakistanis who appeared to be married fraudulently to South Africans. There was much to investigate. Many fraudulent marriages had been detected in Klerksdorp.

Ms Mantlhasi said that the price increase would increase people's care in looking after their ID documents.

Ms Mantlhasi replied that the Department visited every high school and obtained figures for the numbers of matriculation students and how many of them required ID documents.

Ms Mantlhasi replied that the Department should strengthen its relationship with the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to combat fraudulent child registration. She aimed to extend this strategy to every part of the province.

Ms Mantlhasi acknowledged that the Department had a bank exception for R5.4 million in the North West. This was not money that had not been banked, but money for which there no correlation. This was a serious matter.

Ms Mantlhasi replied that some people who had undergone vetting at Klerksdorp continued to be involved in corruption. Vetting did not appear to be having an impact, though it must surely help.

There were 11 mobile facilities, of which two were not fully operational. However, Sentech had come the previous week to check the satellite dish. On the other hand, there were problems with the computers inside, but the information technology (IT) section was told to repair those computers.

Ms Pulane Mojaki, Director: Finance, North West Province, Department of Home Affairs, replied that it was true that the Department should have reported on vacant, unfunded posts. These vacant, unfunded posts had arisen as a result of the new operational model. Now the Department was prioritising these issues, but currently was dealing with filling vacant, funded posts, because it had such posts in the model. The focus was there, currently. As soon as those were filled, the Department would move to filling the vacant, unfunded posts. The unfunded posts were mostly under support services. Normally, when a post was advertised, it was filled within 90 days.

Ms Mojaki said that a new strategy was in place for revenue. The Department's focus had been mainly on assets, which was the issue that had given rise to the audit qualification. The Department now acknowledged that it should not focus only on one area. It had a plan to avoid corruption by means of system-based reporting, ensuring that all documentation correlated, and segregating duties.

Ms Mojaki said that the Department currently employed three persons with disabilities in the North West, which amounted to about 0.5% of the establishment, but the province was endeavouring to recruit such individuals.

Ms Mantlhasi explained delays in constructing new offices.

The Chairperson thanked the officials, but hoped that in future all those from the North West would be properly appointed and not serving in an acting capacity for a long time.

The Chairperson said that, following the enactment of the Civil Union Act, marriage officers had been trained for the purpose of same-sex marriages, but marriage officers who were unwilling to conduct such marriages for religious or other reasons should not be forced to do so. Perhaps there was need for the Committee to meet the Director-General on this subject.

Next week the Committee would meet the remaining provinces.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

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