Tuesday, September 27, 2011

DMV - South Africa style

Last week Monday, Tyson and I(Darin), headed out at about 10:00 to go down to the local car registration and licensing facility in Temba.  We had picked up our car on the 7th and we had 3 weeks from the purchase date to get it registered into our name.  I had previously driven past the “DMV” office a couple of times and had seen lines of 100-150 outside, so I wasn’t looking forward to this.  I was pleasantly surprised this morning when we pulled up that there were no lines outside the building.  We got inside and it took a little while for me to figure out where to go as there seemed to be multiple lines with no clear direction.  I finally figured out who I needed to see to get the correct forms.  The lady behind the glass was friendly enough; different from most Secretary of State employees I’ve had the privilege of dealing with in Michigan.  After I filled out the form, she told me that she would need a copy of my passport before informing me that their copy machine was broken.  So I was thinking that meant I’d need to come back later with the copy and do this all over again.  But when I asked if there was a place close by to make a copy, she told me that one of the guys in the tin shacks at the entrance to the facility could make a copy for me.  So we headed outside and found the copy shack and R5 later, we headed back in.  As I came in the door, maybe 3 minutes later, I saw the same lady take another guy’s ID book to the back room and she reappeared 10 seconds later with a photo copy of it.  Extremely fast service technicians?  I doubt it, but I didn’t say anything.    

I gave her my copy and then she pointed to the next line, about 20 people long.  No big deal I thought, it can’t take that long to process 20 people.  Around 12:15, about 2 hours later, I finally got my turn.  During our wait, Tyson basically entertained the whole office.  Two security guards that seemed to guarding a door to a back room(that wasn’t even locked and didn’t shut all the way) had a good time talking to him and they tried convincing him that there was a jail behind the door.  They even caught him at one point and dragged him back there before he “escaped”.  There were a few times where I’d lose sight of him for a couple minutes at a time, but he’d always show up again.  Good parenting, huh?  There was no way I was going to lose my place in line though!  Did I mention it is 90º outside at this point and there was no AC in this place?  There were also a couple of instances where people tried to cut in line and there was some shouting and a security guard did have to come and restore order once, only to be yelled at by one of the ladies behind the glass because the guard wasn’t setting up the line in the right way.  When I did get up to the window, the guy behind the glass typed in a few things from my form.  He then informed me that I needed to go back to the form lady to get an additional form cause he couldn’t use my US passport # to process the registration.  We headed back to the nice lady, but apparently she was now on a break.  Her replacement seemed to not be in as good of a mood.  I asked for the correct form and instead of giving it to me, she asked to see my passport.  After looking at it, she informed me that I needed to go to the Department of Home Affairs (in Pretoria) to have them confirm that my passport is authentic and then come back with 2 forms of picture ID and proof of residence.  Really?  I couldn’t have been told this 2.5 hours ago before waiting in line?  Maybe the nice lady is still nice because she doesn’t spread bad news and she leaves that up to her colleague who then has to deal with the wrath of those who just wasted a bunch of their day in line.  I’m not really one to get upset in public, especially with a room full of people that can hear everything I say.  The lady behind the glass also didn’t seem to have a complete grasp of English so I didn’t see how arguing would get me anywhere.  So I smiled, said thank you, and we walked out the door.  I’m already picturing a similar situation taking place at the DHA.  Oh well, TIA(This is Africa)!

1 comment:

trombonejo said...

i waited in the pretoria home affairs place for about 8 hours when i wanted to renew my visa durin my stay.
i remember being confused as to why Mark was dropping me off in a dodgy part of town and arranging to pik me up at the end of the day...after a few hours waiting I understood. I also had to go back twice, the second time I had learnt my lesson. I took everything I could possible expect to be useful, and i took lots of water and food and a good book!!