The COVID-19 pandemic has had an undeniable impact on service delivery in nearly all Government departments. Many departments have had to close their offices from time to time and make do with a significantly reduced workforce.
Unfortunately, many government departments have not managed to adapt to the challenges that the pandemic has posed (and continues to do), meaning that there are significant delays in the processing of applications for documents from the South African Police Department’s Criminal Records Centre (police clearance certificates), Department of Home Affairs (birth, marriage, and death certificates, etc.) and DIRCO (apostilles and authentications of SA documents).
Here’s a look at just how severely service delivery was impacted (and continues to be disrupted) by the pandemic:
Luckily, the High Courts of South Africa were not as severely influenced by the pandemic as many other departments. However, at times, staff members were not available due to some form of lockdown restriction.
This meant that if the person dealing with vault or archival documents was not available, it was impossible to obtain those documents. This also had a knock-on effect on documents that had to be signed and stamped for authentication purposes.
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation – DIRCO – was perhaps the hardest hit by the pandemic. Out of all government departments, service delivery at DIRCO was extended the most , proportionate to its previous delivery record.
Two years ago, getting a document apostilled took 24-48 hours at most. Lately, it can take up to a month for the same process to be completed. Apostil.co.za, however, can still get documents apostillised within a week or two (excluding courier times). However, it still places a massive burden on a range of other processes, such as visa applications.
When the pandemic hit South Africa, DIRCO implemented an appointment system. This meant nobody could arrive at the department without an appointment. The introduction of the appointment system drastically limited the number of documents that the department was accepting on a daily basis. In turn, it created a massive backlog of documents that needed to be processed and apostillised for legal use abroad.
Instead of implementing a reliable courier system whereby documents could be accepted remotely and collected via courier again once they were stamped, DIRCO has slowed down their processes and reduced their efficiency rates. Compared to two years ago, DIRCO now takes up to 30 times longer to process apostilles and authentications!
SAPS Criminal Records Center
Applying for a South African Police Clearance Certificate isn’t a process that the pandemic has significantly impacted. Still, there have undoubtedly been delays in the processing of applications from time to time.
It is worth mentioning that the Criminal Records Center in Pretoria – where all police clearance certificates are printed – didn’t face many closures during the pandemic. Still, when forced closure due to a COVID-19 case within the department did occur, it caused significant delays in the processing of applications and issuing of certificates.
During the peak of the pandemic, some people were waiting up to two months to obtain their police clearance certificates. This is a process that generally takes Apostil.co.za two weeks from start to finish.
Department of Home Affairs
Applying for civic certificates and obtaining them from the DHA has always been a delayed process for civilians going at the process independently, and the pandemic has only magnified the problem.
Many Home Affairs employees were not working during levels 5, 4, and 3 of the national lockdowns. Some departments closed entirely during these periods. Instead of disinfecting and implementing isolation measures, entire departments closed due to singular instances of a COVID-19 infection.
South African Embassies
Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of getting documents issued during the course of the pandemic has been dealing with foreign embassies. The Chinese embassy, in particular, has been closed since the onset of the pandemic. There is also no indication as to when normal operations will resume.
Processes that usually took a week or two at the foreign embassies and consulates can now take anywhere between a month and three months to get finalised. This is still causing massive disruptions in a plethora of other processes.
Apostil.co.za is still delivering the fastest document service possible!
Even though government departments have been brought to their knees by the COVID-19 pandemic and service delivery is at an all-time low, Apostil.co.za still offers its clients the fastest, safest, and most efficient option to legal document applications and obtaining said documents.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about our wide range of services and how we can help you obtain your legal documents in the shortest possible time frame!