south africa · thoughts

Home affairs in Randburg

At home affairs in Randburg, Johannesburg, South Africa.


It’s early morning. The sun is softly kissing my skin. I think I arrived early enough. As I park, makeshift photographers with little instant printers are pushing me to take passport pictures. I accept and pay 120 rands for 4 quick pictures in case I need them. I am proud to have negotiated the price down from 150 rands.

I walk back to my car but an idiot in a fancy BMW parked his car so close to my door that I have to struggle to get the papers for my new ID book.

I walk into the Home Affairs property. There are two guards asking me to fill in a COVID 19 form. I fill it it half-heartedly, leaving half the columns blank like every one else.

The guards seem to know, or reckon to be government employees, and tell other clients when or what they should bring or do for their various requests and administrative procedures.

I see a large queue or rather several large queues in a sandy, sunny outdoor yard with a few large trees. I’m somewhat relieved I’m not the only white (am I even white? Indian Nicaraguan! I must be deeply confused about my identity!) or non-black. My racist predispositions are at peace. I hate myself for it. There are “coloureds”, whites, blacks and some Asians. All are quietly queuing up. Some are just chatting about the long queue and their various problems.

I’m confused by all the different queues with no explanations or signs. So I ask the seemingly knowledgeable guards which queue is for lost identity documents. They point me to the first queue. I quietly walk over to the back of the line. I roughly count 60 people ahead of me, not knowing how many are inside the building.

The person behind me is a white chatty lady. I keep to myself. She goes on chatting to others in the queue.

For the next 2 hours we move at a snails pace. There are two African ladies in front of me speaking Zulu I think. Some people behind me say a few words in Afrikaans. I think they are from Cape Town (coloreds or with Cape Malay origins). You can tell by their accent.

I am near the front of the line but it’s still a little far. I’m not sure if I’ll make to my next appointment at 12:45. Oh well. I hope it won’t take much longer or my documents aren’t sufficient to process my request.

I’m still grateful as if this was Congo, I would be yelling and fighting to keep my position in the line. At least here everyone stays in their position and wait their turn. There’s also electricity and the weather is very pleasant.

Update: I get to the reception. I’m told I’m in the wrong queue. That I should skip the other queue and go fill in some forms without waiting! 🤣 I get mad and ask for more clarity from the guards but they defend themselves as expected. I get the job done but with an extra 3 hours.

I also overhear the white chatty lady saying to someone that I’m a serial killer because I’m too quiet. Oh boy 🤣

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