The Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, launched the Home Affairs Contact Centre on 18 October 2016 to replace the Call Centre while offering a multi-platform channel to provide clients with various options to interface with the Department.
These platforms include email and SMS services to better respond to queries in universally acceptable standards.
This may sound like a more competent and hassle free solution to the communication problems that have been faced by most applicants. However, upon closer inspection there has been no real change for immigrants wishing to reside in South Africa.
The new contact centre is in the position to assist with enquiries lodged by South African citizens, much like the previous system, but it still proves to be a nightmare for Permanent and Temporary Residence applicants. None of the contact centre agents can inform the applicant of the exact position of their application, resulting in the applicant still being sent from pillar to post with no aid in sight.
Applicants are redirected to the Head of Permanent Residence which proves that the contact centre cannot assist, thus failing to reduce the pressure on higher management. The frustration experienced by most foreign applicants subsided upon the announcement of the new and improved contact centre as the possibility of soon receiving their overdue applications seemed to be on the horizon.
It would appear as though this proposed major shift from past practices is still in the pipeline for foreign applicants as the officials and consultants do not have access to the efficient software necessary for the smooth running of the contact centre in regards to the Temporary and Permanent Residency applications.
Once again, foreign applicants are not to hold their breaths in the hopes of receiving their application outcomes within 8 months of submission as promised.