Residents of Thaba Nchu in the Free State will no longer have to travel distances in order to apply for identity documents.

This as Wednesday saw the opening of a home affairs office in the area. The home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba says his department has witnessed a turnaround in staff attitude and that there’s a respect for members of the public.

Despite the Department expanding its footprint – there’s still concern over the high number of uncollected identity documents.

“In the coming few days we will announce a plan to keep some of our offices open for longer than they usually are and to allow people who knock off at work at 4pm to still find the offices open on weekends and on election day across the country. As soon as our officials have voted we will open our offices to allow South Africans who want to cast their cards,” says Gigaba.

Community members have welcomed the opening of the new offices.

“I’m very grateful to have a new home affairs office because we’re no longer going to use our money to go to Botshabelo for transport, so I’m very grateful and glad,” says a community worker.

“We used to suffer a lot due to transport especially for those who live far away at the Trusts and had to use transport and go for far places to access the services. But now we’re happy the services are nearer to us as we now can walk to the office,” says another community worker.

In a bid to improve its image, the department has now introduced a new uniform for its officials.