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Yesterday, on my way home from work, I heard the following story on the news. Kabelo Thibedi, after two years of being shunted around by Home Affairs, finally had enough.

He snapped.

Now, before I even start out, in the interest of short-circuiting any potential misunderstanding, I do not condone his actions nor his methods.

For those not in the know, Home Affairs is probably the one department with the most influence in South Africa. You need an ID book? Go to Home affairs. You need a Passport? Home Affairs for you! A birth? Same place to register the event. A death? Ditto. Marriage? Well, you get the drift…

It is the one government department every South African will have to deal with at some stage of his or her life. And probably more than once as well. Sorry, no exceptions.

Okay, so what has that to do with anything? We know that they have way too much influence and power… Let’s put things in perspective. What has happened to Kabelo is a bit excessive, but only a bit.

I had to renew my ID book a while ago. It only took them five month to do that. Time in actual work? Less than an hour in all probability, since they merely print the details into a pre-formatted booklet. Okay, let’s give them the benefit of doubt and say a week to do an hours work. Hell, this is Africa, that’s not too inconceivable.

Time invested from my side? Three hours in a slow moving queue on a very hot day to apply for my new ID. Five month for them to make it. Finally, and fortunately, I moved to Cape Town, so they mailed the ID book to me. No, not registered post, mail! And people wonder why ID fraud is rampant in this country?

And I was well off…

The Girl applied for her passport at the same time. Nine months, moving town, an engagement and more trips to Home Affairs than I would willingly count later — to contend with some of the most abrupt, surly and just plain incompetent people in the world — she finally had her passport in her mitts.

Nine Damn Months Later!

Now how do you like that for customer service, folks?

It was so bad that she’s decided to leave her passport in her maiden name, since we do not need the aggravation of another trip to Home Affairs. Not yet. Not soon. Hell, if we had a choice (as if!); never!

So, while I don’t condone his actions, I have to admit however — to be completely honest — that I do understand them. One hundred percent…