A South African’s guide to surviving the dreaded Home Affairs queue

Most South Africans dread going to Home Affairs. Who wants to queue anyway?
Anything Home Affairs-related is such an enormous, overbearing task that we simply shy away from important things like collecting our ID cards or that equally pesky task of changing a surname.
Forms to fill in, queues leading out the door, coupled with our troubling weather – hot or cold, it’s equally annoying. Mixed together it all just builds up to a very unpleasant experience.
If you need to visit your friendly Home Affairs office at some point in the near future, rejoice! Gabriel Sithole from Vuma103fm compiled the ultimate checklist of do’s and don’ts to get you through the day.
He shared the wisdom on Facebook and explained that it’s his “citizen’s duty to inform you as a member of the public, that somewhere in your lifetime, you WILL have to go to a government department. I have compiled just ten topics that will help you in getting things going well for you.”
Entering the premises
To start off on the right note, greet the security staff. Sithole says it is essential and said not greeting them is a sign of disrespect or arrogance. He adds:
“If you want things to go smoothly for you, acknowledge these ladies and gents.”
Good manners
Good manners never hurt anyone. Sithole suggests that you greet everybody loudly. A simple “Howzit,” “Sanbonani,” or “Heita” will suffice. By greeting others, you inform your fellow citizens that you are approachable.
“This is an investment for you, because when the queue slows down, you WILL need someone to talk to. This is super-critical.”
Seating arrangement
Once seated, don’t act like you’re at home, chilling on the couch and watching Netflix. Respect your seat neighbour’s boundary and stay out of their space. And then possibly the most crucial bit of advice:
“While seated, PLEASE do not play your Whatsapp voice notes, for ALL of us to hear. You won’t like it when we comment…now that you invited us into your private space.”
Snacking
If you’re in for the long run, you’ll need sustenance to get you through the day. But Sithole warns not to “show off by eating your protein bars and drinking green liquids called smoothies.” Don’t be pretentious, toe?
“Please South Africa! A crunchie will do! A squashed, melted lunch bar is even better. It says, ‘You are with us.’”
Time
ithole says that checking your wristwatch is a no-no. He continues:
“You’ve been on your phone since you got here. Does it not have a clock? Then why are you making all of us anxious by looking at your wrist! STOP IT!!”
Talking in the queue
Talking loudly is important. If you don’t, you might be earmarked as a gossiper, and nobody wants that. Sithole says others want to be part of the conversation too, but suggests to keep the topics light and relatable.
Sports, fuel prices, the weather and SABC channels are all in order. Discussing Netflix, Showmax and DSTV will only get you alienated. He also warns:
“Feel free to ask for our input as well. As long as you have not been served and I’m sitting next to you… I’m your EVERYTHING. I’m your pastor, brother, psychologist, tv guide, your consumer watchdog, financial advisor, marriage counsellor. I’m your EVERYTHING. Treat me as such!”
Phone etiquette
This should go without saying but please don’t play music on your phone. However, don’t wear headphones either and put your phone on vibrate. If you do need to take an urgent phone call, be quick about it:
“Be brief! Why are you having a conference call with ALL of us? We do not care about your tender deal that you got. Why are you here with us, if you are so “loaded”. Respect us please!”
Body Language
Find the balance between being comfortable without slouching. If you slouch, other citizens might think you’ve been queuing the entire day, and that will only make them lose hope. He suggests:
“Relax! Don’t tense up!! You are making us unsure why we are or if we are in the line! Just…just…just sit properly damnit!”
Service window
This is the most crucial bit of advice: When you do get to the service window or counter, greet the employee loudly and friendly. Sithole said everybody in the queue behind you would be judged by your actions and how you approach service personnel.
“Do not greet them by their name on the name badge. This only proves that you think you are smart and you can read. Call them “Sisi or Boetie”. DO NOT say “baba, uncle, bro…mama. Why not? Read the above point again for an answer.”
Always carry cash and don’t ask that dreaded question: “Do you take cards?” Sithole said this isn’t Woolworths. Always take cash. He says it’s important to look “humble and depressed,” and flaunting your Umhlanga accent will win you no favours here.

“Be interested in the employee/official hard work. Mention something random like, “Wow you guys start early!” Or ” It’s tough to work with people hey.” Show them you are on their side! You and I know good and well that you HATE every moment. Common man Smokes and mirrors! Remember our hopes as we are sitting down… rest upon your attitude at this window.”
Bonus tip: Say goodbye
Sithole said it’s important to greet the employee or official when you are done. However, under no circumstances do you greet those behind you in the queue. He explains:
“We haven’t been served yet! Just keep walking to your good life and leave us alone. Can you not see that we have service problems, hence we still sitting here! You insensitive piece of….”

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