Following the introduction of the electronically filed passports, also known as e-passport, the Department of Immigration Services in the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs (MLHA) is in the near future expected to reimburse people who had applied for the old passports.
Segakweng Tsiane, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said that, along with determination of progress made in the issuance of the new passport, the relevant offices are currently working on the modalities of refunding all those who had sought to secure passports before the e-passport was introduced.
“It might be worth noting that it has not been and cannot be possible to incorporate the P30 paid at the time of applying for the old passport into the new fee structure as the system does not understand what the P30 serve,” explained Segakweng.
She added that, as such, it was decided that rather than complicate things, it would be realistic to just treat these as two unrelated matters that need to be treated with due diligence.
“However, for the sake of proper management, only those with receipts would be able to show that money was collected from them and therefore eligible for repayment,” Segakweng told The Sunday Standard.
The effect of this is that, technically, a lot of people won’t get their money back mainly because there has always been a tendency and practice of presenting the old passport to claim the new one in the era of the non electronic travel document. That is in the case of those who applied either for a new one due to reasons of expiry or full pages.
No assurance has been made that passports would be accepted as indicators that some money was collected from the applicants.
In spite of the PS’s commitment to settle the P30 refund sometime soon, one male Kanye citizen, who preferred anonymity, said the Ministry’s Accounting Officer was merely soothsaying.
“I cannot understand how the PS would say that when I and a number of other colleagues were told point blank at the counters by Immigration officials that we just have to pay P250 for the e-passport and forget about the P30 we paid,” he stated.
It is generally expected that the e-passport will ease the pressure and reduce the amount of time taken at the borders in authenticating the machine as the document will just have to be swiped through the system, rather than manually checked.
This should make it easier to maintain smiles on the faces of tourists and football fans during the peak of the World Cup games due in June this year in South Africa.
Segakweng also indicated that the system incorporates a bio-check involving the photographic capturing of one’s eyes at the time of issuing the new passport.