Home Affairs to extend working hours at ports of entry

Pretoria: The Department of Home Affairs will extend operating hours at selected ports of entry, deploy additional personnel and extra resources to boost service delivery during the festive season.

This is according to the department’s Director-General, Mkuseli Apleni, who briefed media in Pretoria on Wednesday on operational and contingency plans that the department has put in place this festive season.

Apleni said the plans are meant to ensure smooth facilitation of travellers and goods.

He said selected ports of entry will operate on extended hours between 10 December 2015 and 14 January 2016.

“This will cater for the pre-festive season movement, the post-festive season period and the re-opening of schools in the New Year,” said Apleni.

He said the number of workstations will also be increased over this period to ensure that the ports of entry are not affected by the increase in traveller volumes.

He said the past festive season was one of the most successful periods as only a few incidents were reported.

Apleni said statistics showed an increase of movement of travellers on arrival at Maseru Bridge, Ficksburg, Oshoek and Kopfontein, while Beitbridge and Lebombo figures showed a decrease in comparison with the previous season.

“Two major land ports of entry, Beitbridge and Lebombo, continue to receive the majority of travellers during the festive period.

“We encourage people to travel gradually over the entire period rather than in a single day, so that we can all be and feel safe,” said Apleni.

Unabridged birth certificate requirement

Apleni said regulations specific to travelling with children have not changed and this is to protect children, ensuring that “we know who is taking them out of the country, lawfully and with permission”.

He said an unabridged birth certificate is still required for all children under the age of 18 years, including unaccompanied minors.

This is in addition to the requirement for valid passports, visas where applicable, as well as affidavits confirming parental consent to such travel in the event that one parent is not travelling.

He said it takes about eight weeks to apply and be issued with an unabridged birth certificate, which would be required for each travelling child.

“Those whose applications have exceeded eight weeks, and have not received certificates, are advised to visit Home Affairs offices where they will be given a letter to use in the place of the certificate in the event that they need to travel.

“I encourage our people when applying for a child’s passport to also apply for birth certificates. Details of parents will be printed in the passport so that parents, whose particulars are printed, will therefore not be required to carry birth certificates when travelling with their children,” he said.

He also said the department has been able to successfully carry out Live Capture System upgrades as announced last week. Full services are expected to be provided from Thursday.