Friday, December 02, 2005

Would you take a public servant hostage?

I'm not sure I'd have the guts to, but I certainly understand this guy.

Imagine being poor. You fight your way to getting your matric (school-leaver's exam). Probably studying by candlelight, going to the library because you can't afford books. Studying in your third language. You look forward to getting a job. Repaying your parent's pride and hard work at scraping together money to get you through school.

And then you apply for your identification document. Again getting tour little money together to pay for ID photos. You queue for five hours at a home affairs office. You wait and months later, you get the document - and it has your name spelt wrong.

In the mean time, you have a job offer, but you cannot be hired because you have no proof of identification.

You reappply for identification - and wait two years. Often queuing at the home affairs office - again for over five hours at a time. Each time to be told your ID is not ready.

Is it any wonder this guy snapped, taking a home affairs manager hostage with a toy gun?

I hope a judge dismisses this and lets the guy go. Under South Africa's Public Finance and Management Act, civil servants can be held personally accountable for poor management. Maybe it is time somebody did lay a charge against the minister of home affairs.

No comments: