liquid gold or a complete joke?

my husband warned me from the get-go that i would need to apply for a new south african ID book. being originally south african i always had one but obviously it got mislaid somewhere along the line of the past 16 years. anyhow being me & all i was quite sure that there was no need to apply for a new one as i wasn’t planning on being here for very long & well, why bother….?

besides which i would be lying if i said that i was looking forward to spending the day at the home affairs department in south africa of all places to apply for an ID book. i could only begin to imagine what that might entail….. in fact i was dreading it so much i used any excuse to not go at all. i then started a job & realised i would need a bank account for them to pay my salary into. so i trundled off to the bank to open a bank account only to be told that unless i had a south african ID book this was not possible. no problem… i then presented the bank clerk with my south african passport which had my identity number in it thinking this would solve my problem & get me a bank account. nope, no way. unless you have a green identity book you ain’t getting a bank account…. at any south african bank! then came trying to get a mobile phone contract. well that’s not happening either unless you can produce this little green book. so when my new employers needed a copy of it to register me as being employed with them…… i eventually gave up & hit the home affairs department.

pleasantly surprised is putting it mildly. i arrived first thing in the morning & the place was packed. the guy selling black ink pens (the only kind allowed to be used on your paperwork) at the entrance obviously saw my look of horror, motioned me aside, and told me to come back after lunch time when the place was practically empty. I bought a pen to thank him & set off only to return later…..

as was predicted the crowd inside had subsided considerably & i pretty much breezed in, sat & waited in a very orderly queue for not even an hour. the lady that dealt with my application was very knowledgeable & helpful. she whizzed me through the application, double-checked it then told me to go & pay the cashier. i was beyond impressed & well when i asked her how long the application would take & she told me 4 – 6 weeks maximum I was astounded. perhaps the ‘new south africa’ would come through for me after all. so i paid my money & pretty much walked out of the department beaming. easy as pie!

as if the above wasn’t impressive enough i then received a text on my phone (a pay as you go because i can’t get a contract!!!!) confirming receipt of my application & informing me that i could periodically text the following number to receive updates of the process…. IMPRESSIVE!!!!!!

so i waited 4 weeks before sending my first text to get an update. within seconds of sending the text i received an update informing me that my ‘ID is at head office in pretoria for processing (step 2 of 4)’….. impressed once again…. all seems to be going well.

a week later i send off for another update only to receive the exact same message back…. ok, well maybe the other 2 steps go very quickly & i’ll have my ID next week. surely no cause for concern….

two weeks later (so 7 weeks in total) i send off the exact same message only to receive a text telling me ‘there is no record of my ID application’ (!!!!!?????) meanwhile the three texts above it confirm the application with reference numbers etc…. so i call them immediately…. yip, no record of the application is found & of course the more i try & explain to the monkey (philomoen to be exact – fondly remembered from ‘van der merwe’ jokes….. i have never actually met one in real life, well lucky me!) on the other side of the phone that i am actually looking at the screen of my phone where i have all the texts on full view saying otherwise the more the eedjit says this is not the case. i’m just about to verbalise my thoughts (which were far from pleasant) when somehow he tracks down my application & confirms that ‘oh yes it is in actual fact in the system but still in pretoria’ & then adds that ‘i should have patience as the process does take 4 – 6 weeks’!!!!???? i just hang up.

a week later i text again & get told i am now at ‘step 3 of 4’, my ID is still in pretoria but it’s being printed.

another week passes & this time i receive the response that surprise, surprise ‘there is no record of my ID application’…. honestly it would be a joke if it weren’t so friggin frustrating.

so i’m on the phone again, this time to ‘patience’…. oh the irony is not lost on me!!!!

anyhow i’m not going to bore you with the rest of the saga…. all i’m going to let you know is that it is now 5 1/2 months & i STILL don’t have an ID book. apparently it will be arriving next week. i will not be holding my breath because i will no doubt suffocate!

so my advice to anyone wishing to return to south africa – make sure you have your ID book & if you don’t then do yourself a favour and apply for it overseas. after this experience we applied for my son’s south african passport in london – the entire process took 3 weeks…….!