Home affairs readies pilot of online appointment system

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The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is looking to pilot its online-driven appointment system in five of its branches from 3 December, says director-general Tommy Makhode.

Makhode and the DHA delegation today updated the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs on the implementation of the branch appointment booking system, among other issues.

The appointment system, according to department's CIO, will be web and SMS-based. 

DG Makhode told the committee the appointment system has undergone a number of phases since it was announced, including system security and quality assurance tests.

He said the pilot will take place at home affairs branches with high traffic volumes. “We hope to pilot in five offices from 3 December to 31 March 2022.”

According to Makhode , the offices where the appointment system will be piloted are located in Gauteng at Akasia and Byron Place, Wynberg and Paarl in the Western Cape, and Tongaat in KwaZulu-Natal, to test the appointment booking system.

“If it’s successful, then we should be able to roll it out to other offices,” he stated, adding that parallel to this is the work the DHA is doing with the banks to increase its footprint. “They are also working around some of these activities to make sure they provide us with the requisite support.”

The DHA – whose core function is to manage identity, civil status and migration of citizens – has embarked on a modernisation process of its systems and services, which it hopes will address challenges such as queues and network downtime.

In September, the DHA told the portfolio committee that it’s developing an appointment system to reduce the scores of people that visit home affairs branches.

At the time, Makhode likened the appointment system to the one clients currently use to book for passports and smart ID cards with their respective banks.

He also indicated that the department was also exploring, through its own internal developers, how to add platforms such as WhatsApp and USSD on the appointment system, to enable better access for almost everyone.

The home affairs department will be joining other government entities such as the Road Traffic Management Corporation and the Gauteng education department to make an appointment system available for contact with clients. 

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